HEALTH

Cold and allergy category promising for independents, HRG says

BY Michael Johnsen

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Cold and allergy is the leading front-of-store category as measured by dollar sales for independents, Hamacher Resource Group reported in a blog on Monday. All told, the category represents 17.9% of all health, beauty and wellness sales.

That total is slightly down, 0.6%, from last year’s percentage, but HRG is confident cough cold sales will swing up in the coming season.

"There were several new launches in 2017 that will hopefully drive sales back up," reported Kyle Lentz, HBC category analyst, HRG. "The allergy brand Xyzal from Chattem is an Rx-to-OTC switch that hit stores in March," he noted. "Significant launches within the children’s subcategory include the re-emergence of Children’s Tylenol cold products, and Mondelez International added HALLS Kids Cough & Sore Throat suckers. Adding these new products to [an independent's] assortment will help drive consumers to the department and boost sales."

In addition, the lip care segment continues to evolve, he said. "Pack changes for brands like EOS and Carmex can revitalize sluggish sales, while entries from specialty manufacturers like Burt’s Bees and O’Keeffe’s are seeing sales climb," Lentz suggested. He suggested independents merchandise a wide selection of lip balms that cater to a vast array of customer preferences.
  

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TABS Analytics: Brick-and-mortar driving ecommerce growth, especially in VMS

BY DSN STAFF

While everyone is focusing on pure play online giant Amazon, what they are likely missing is how brick and mortar retailers are driving ecommerce sales growth, noted TABS Analytics last week in a blog. "The TABS Analytics 10th Vitamin and Minerals Study revealed that online sales by traditional brick and mortar retailers propelled the market to an all-time high, growing an estimated 6% in the last year to reach $13.5 billion in annual sales," the company reported. "Walmart.com, specifically, had a breakout year for VMS sales. … Though second in eCommerce, Walmart.com doubled its online share of mentions, growing to 9.1% in 2017. (TABS Analytics)

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Libertana Home Health deploys home care solution through Amazon Alexa and Orbita

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON — Orbita, a provider of voice-first software for connected experiences, announced that it has teamed with Libertana Home Health, one of the largest managers of California-based health and housing waivers, to deploy a first-of-its-kind home care solution using Amazon Alexa voice assistant technology. 

Libertana is using Orbita Voice, an enterprise-grade software platform for creating and maintaining conversational voice applications for Alexa, to engage individuals in managing activities of daily living and self-care, and more effectively inform home care professionals in triaging care needs and aligning care delivery.

Libertana has tested Orbita-powered Amazon Echo Dots with a select group of residents who use the voice assistant to report vital data, such as weight, blood pressure or blood sugar levels, hear medication and exercise reminders, request help from a home care professional, coordinate transportation, and learn about social or recreational activities.

“In our efforts to empower individuals to live independently, Libertana’s had significant success with out-of-the-box approaches. We see great value in the capabilities of voice to address a full range of health and living needs for seniors and disabled individuals,” stated Jonathan Istrin, Libertana executive director. “Loneliness, for example, is a huge variable impacting health. At a minimum, if a digital assistant can help break the loneliness cycle, we come out ahead. Beyond this, the possibilities seem nearly endless.”

By enhancing engagement and compliance, voice experiences can contribute to improved outcomes, said Debra Harrison, Libertana’s public subsidized housing manager. “Voice assistants overcome challenges for individuals who, due to physical limitations, cannot use a keyboard or touch screen. They also improve patient satisfaction with more natural, engaging experiences that eliminate the 'monitoring' stigma of other connected devices, while still providing the data-driven insights that improve caregiver response in moments of need and intervention. Finally, they reduce costs by keeping patients at home and away from more costly clinical care settings.”

“Voice is the next user interface and home healthcare is arguably the most important frontier for its application," commented Bill Rogers, Orbita CEO. “Libertana’s application is an excellent use case for voice technology and we’re extremely pleased with how fully they’ve embraced our technology.”

 

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