Amped-up print greetings compete with digital cards
The greeting card category is shifting. Category giants American Greetings and Hallmark face the threat of competition from e-cards and are challenged by increased segmentation of the card category. Hallmark estimates that over the past decade, the number of greeting cards sold in the United States has dropped from 6 billion to 5 billion annually.
The Greeting Card Association reports that while greeting card unit sales have fluctuated over the past several years, the industry continues to generate annual revenues of $7 billion to $8 billion.
A leaner, meaner category can be profitable for retailers. A recent study commissioned by Avanti Press revealed that humor was by far the most popular type of greeting card. “Of consumers surveyed, 96% said they prefer funny greeting cards,” said Marc Trobman, VP business development for Avanti. Trobman said a majority of consumers want greeting cards with goofy — rather than edgy — humor.
Avanti’s study also found that consumers will pay more for cards they believe offer added value. Cards featuring sound, light, motion, video and pop-up aspects have become more prevalent, and consumers are trading up when they feel there’s value in the product. Avanti recently introduced a coaster card as part of its StandOuts line. The card includes a pop-out drink coaster stamped with “Happy Birthday” inside.
“The card is priced at $4.99, a premium over our core card price of $2.99, but consumers will pay it because they see the value in the added coaster that can be used later,” Trobman said.
“Today the greeting card and stationery market is increasingly shifting from mass to ‘class.’ One-size cards no longer fit many or most,” said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing.
Record patent expirations roil Rx market
In 2011 and 2012, the steady surge of blockbuster pharmaceuticals falling off the patent cliff became a stampede. An astonishing number of big-selling drugs that had established and sustained branded drug makers’ profits for years fell victim to the expiration of their patent lives and market exclusivity, roiling the pharmaceutical marketplace and redefining the pricing model for many of the most widely prescribed classes of medicines.
Among the products that have lost patent protection since last fall were the world’s two biggest-selling medicines, Pfizer’s cholesterol treatment Lipitor and the anti-clotting blockbuster Plavix from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi. Other drugs losing protection this year include AstraZeneca’s antipsychotic mega-seller, Seroquel; Merck’s biggest-selling drug, the $3.4 billion asthma and allergy medication Singulair; Forest Laboratories’ anti depressant, Lexapro; Actos, the oral Type 2 diabetes medicine from Takeda Pharmaceuticals; and Viagra, Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction treatment.
Over the next two years, the scheduled list of patent losses also will include such blockbusters as OxyContin, Nexium, Cymbalta and Celebrex. According to IMS Health, drugs generating more than $102 billion in combined annual sales will reach the end of their patent life over the next five years.
For generic drug companies, the exposure of so many of the world’s biggest-selling medicines to me-too competition for the first time has been a sales and profit bonanza. The expiring patents also herald savings for public and private health plans, not to mention patients themselves.
For branded drug makers, the patent cliff is forcing a shift in Big Pharma’s research and development efforts.
Survey: Retail clinic visits on the rise among U.S. adults
NEW YORK — The number of adults who are familiar with retail clinics and have used them has increased in recent years, according to a recent study by Kalorama Information, a publisher of healthcare market research.
The online survey was conducted among 2,000 U.S. adults and found that 21.3% of those surveyed have visited a retail clinic. The survey result is a significant increase over polls from six years ago, which showed that less than 10% of U.S. adults had used a clinic within a retail setting. Kalorama attributes the result to the growth of health clinics at top retail chains, growth in clinic traffic and the “bunching” of clinics in certain cities. There are currently more than 1,300 retail clinics in the United States.
The finding was made in its complete market research survey on retail clinics, "Retail Clinics 2012: Growth of Stores, Consumer Opinion Surveys, Winning Competitors, Supplier Sales of Products to Clinics, Clinic Sales Forecasts and Trends."
Kalorama noted that customers have responded well to the appointment-free service, improved hours compared with the average physician office and lower costs. A shortage of primary care physicians, rising concerns about access and costs, and now a health reform plan are all expected to send new patients to clinics. But Kalorama stated that there is still competition from primary care physicians, urgent care centers and other entities.
While the concept survived the recession and opposition from medical associations and state legislatures, Kalorama noted that there is still work to be done.
The most important development in the persistence of the retail clinic concept, according to Kalorama, is that major drug stores embraced clinics and the two largest drugstore chains in the United States —CVS Caremark and Walgreens — are competing to offer healthcare services as part of their retail strategy. The report also noted the “bunching” of retail clinics in certain cities identified for key demographics, increasing the likelihood that residents of these cities will visit a retail clinic.
"In places like Atlanta, Phoenix, Minneapolis and Chicago, there is greater competition and awareness of retail clinics because companies have made investments there," stated Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information. "In other cities, respondents right now will say that they have not been to a clinic because there isn’t one close to them."