CLEVELAND — July 20, 2006 — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing (ECRM) have joined forces to enhance both organizations’ category-specific events and bring increased efficiency to the sales and marketing process in the grocery category for consumer packaged goods. The partnership strategically joins two industry leaders: FMI is recognized for its industry leadership and solid membership base of more than 1,500 food retailers and wholesales, and ECRM for its successful business meeting process. The establishment of upcoming grocery events led by the two organizations will revolve around ECRM’s already successful format – Efficient Program Planning Session (or EPPS) – and the company’s online software, which will be used to facilitate buyer-seller preparation, on-site productivity and post-meeting follow up for each event.

The decision to partner with ECRM reflects the industry’s desire for productive buyer/seller conversations held in very efficient, convenient formats according to Brian Tully, FMI senior vice president. "This new collaboration results from our conversations with ECRM about how we could utilize their innovative software to enhance our events," Tully says.

"The schedule we have developed has even surpassed our expectations," says Charles Bowlus, founder and CEO of the company. Today, the company’s EPPS events are category wide, covering health and beauty care, pharmaceutical technologies and marketing services to name a few. In total, Bowlus and his team have more than 50 events planned this year alone; a number that is to increase in 2007. "We’re looking for increased growth in grocery specifically, and especially because of the partnership with FMI," says Bowlus.

With the newly formed partnership, FMI and ECRM will co-produce existing grocery EPPS events hosted by ECRM. In addition, FMI will expand on certain existing event offerings using ECRM’s advanced software, called eFusion, which helps facilitate the meeting process by enabling participants from both parties in business discussions to follow through immediately. "We’re looking to incorporate more of ECRM’s efficiencies into buyer/seller conversations," says Tully.

"FMI has been hosting successful grocery industry events for years," says Bowlus. "We’re looking forward to melding our technology and business processes to make these events even more productive."


About the Food Marketing Institute:
Food Marketing Institute (FMI) conducts programs in research, education, industry relations and public affairs on behalf of its 1,500 member companies - food retailers and wholesalers - in the United States and around the world. FMI's U.S. members operate approximately 26,000 retail food stores with a combined annual sales volume of $340 billion - three-quarters of all retail food store sales in the United States. FMI's retail membership is composed of large multi-store chains, regional firms and independent supermarkets. Its international membership includes 200 companies from 50 countries.

What is ECRM?
Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing (ECRM) held its first Efficient Promotional Planning Session (EPPS) – category specific events covering everything from health and beauty care to cold and cough – in 1994 in Miami, Fla. Today with more than 140 EPPS events under its belt, ECRM is recognized as the industry leader in business planning – streamlining the sales and marketing supply chain for manufacturers and retail buyers around the world. Complementing the company’s EPPS events, ECRM offers buyers and sellers in the U.S. and abroad a suite of hi-tech solutions, including a distributed software program – eFusion – and other online tools. Visit for additional information about the company’s upcoming events and newest online tools and software that bring more efficient to doing business.

What is EPPS?
The ECRM business model consists of Efficient Program Planning Sessions (EPPS) backed by the company’s powerful business-to-business Web site EPPS events – category or season specific – consist of one-on-one planning sessions scheduled between sellers and buyers to review new items/services, marketing initiatives and strategic direction. The event takes place at a resort or hotel in a major metropolis in the United States or abroad (depending on the category). Individual suites are sold to sellers with the understanding through ECRM that each company will have the opportunity to present their products/services to buyers in private one-on-one pre-set meetings. Meetings anywhere from 20, 30 or 40 minutes in length – depending on the category/service of focus – are scheduled over a two- to four-day event. Some events have additional meeting options, including Power Hall and Expo Hall. Power Hall sessions are private 10-minute meetings set within a large ballroom, whereby manufacturers have a private area with room for displays and materials to meet with every retailer attending. The more economical format, Expo Hall, is set up much like the Power Hall; however, sellers are not guaranteed meetings and meet with buyers in a 10' x 10' booth (for displays and materials). (All of ECRM’s technology is fully utilized at these meetings, which will facilitate presentation of programs in an abbreviated timeframe, as well as provide Web-based tools to improve the execution of programs.)