SIRI and NACDS webinar discusses how HBC is turning to wellness

NEW YORK —Welcome to the new “business as unusual” where shoppers have their sights set on health and wellness, self-treatment and better living with a view of the world through a “lens of affordability,” said Thom Blischok of SymphonyIRI Group during a recent industry webinar co-hosted by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. The story, as Blischok suggested, is one of significance and lasting change.

“The economy is still center stage in the hearts and minds of the shopper with the potential of a double-dip recession. Many of our houses continue to be underwater, and the job front has only slightly improved,” said Blischok, global president of innovation and strategy for SymphonyIRI Group. “We continue to live in quite uncertain times.”

It is because of this that the shopper is more discerning than ever before. Today, the American dream is not about getting rich, as it was several years ago, but instead is about living better—for less. In order to live better, shoppers today are highly focused on health-and-wellness simplicity.

“Shoppers want to be educated, especially in health and wellness, and if there’s anything that I want you to write down, it is that health-and-wellness education is probably one of the single most important steps that you can take to change the velocity of your products in the market,” Blischok told attendees of the May 26 webinar dubbed, “2010 Business as Unusual.”

There’s no doubt that affordable health care is paramount for today’s shoppers, but that doesn’t just mean cheaper prescription medications or having insurance; many of today’s shoppers are looking at health and wellness in a holistic fashion—lifestyle, exercise, diet and stress management—because many believe that they cannot afford to become ill.

“Shoppers are self-treating in today’s economic environment.… Education and self-treatment are going hand-in-hand, so it is important to begin to think about packaging to help people understand how to self-treat,” said Blischok, noting that a survey of more than 1,400 shoppers revealed that 38% of shoppers are selecting over-the-counter medications to self-treat, driven by the need to save money.

Research also has shown that trips to drug stores for OTC medications will slightly outpace trips to supercenters for OTCs in the next six months. This fact, coupled with the fact that consumers are increasingly self-treating, truly highlights the critical role of the pharmacist.

“Recognize that you as manufacturers and retailers need to be enhancing the value of the pharmacist as a primary vehicle to help educate consumers,” Blischok said.

In addition, more shoppers will be opting for store-brand OTC medications, vitamins and supplements in the next six months as they look for ways to manage expenses; however, beauty is a bit of a different story.

According to research, 92% of beauty shoppers indicated that they would stay with the trusted brands they have purchased in the past. However, channel surfing will remain alive and well as beauty shoppers search for the best prices.

“We are seeing the reinvention of a traditional [health-and-beauty-care department]. Two weeks ago, we announced the renaming of HBC to HBW—health, beauty and wellness—at the FMI Health and Wellness Conference. We believe that this is a significant move that manufacturers and retailers must both consider in order to be in tune with the changing health and wellness and beauty shopper,” Blischok said. “What’s important here is that the first stage of health and wellness is, in fact, beauty. So people want to look good to feel good.”

Prevalence of serious diseases in the United States *In millions** In billions Source: SymphonyIRI Group, 2010
Disease#of U.S. households*Annual OTC market potential**
High cholesterol50.5$8.1
High blood pressure/hypertension49.97.8
Heart problems or stroke26.64.2
Heart problems—other17.62.8

Prevalence of chronic moderate ailments in the United States

*In millions** In billions Source: SymphonyIRI Group, 2010
Ailment#of U.S. households*Annual OTC market potential**
Muscle/joint pain52.48.2
Heartburn/acid indigestion49.17.6
Pain management45.57.1

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