PHARMACY

CVS/pharmacy enters largely unchartered waters in retail with Spanish-language site

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The launch of CVS/pharmacy’s Spanish-language website is especially important when you consider the fact that the company is attempting to do something that only one other retailer has been able to do. Yep, one.

(THE NEWS: CVS/pharmacy launches Spanish-language website. For the full story, click here)

Only one other retailer — Best Buy — has been able to launch and support a robust Spanish-language e-commerce site in the long run. Well, if CVS/pharmacy proves successful then make that two retailers that have achieved such an accomplishment.

The move is in line with CVS’ effort to take its digital program to new heights in the coming years. Furthermore, CVS is working to offer shoppers a more personalized shopping experience via a store clustering approach and, in 2012, is expanding its segmentation approach through several tests, including a Hispanic prototype. Granted, its store clustering initiative pertains to bricks and mortar locations but perhaps some of the learnings from the site will play out in a Hispanic prototype?

What also makes the launch of the site especially important is the significant growth of the Hispanic population. By 2016, this demographic group will comprise 17.8% of U.S. residents, according to a September 2011 report, titled “The Growing Hispanic Population Means Big Business for These 7 Sectors,” from market research firm IBISWorld.

“For more than two decades, Hispanic buying power growth has outstripped that of the general population. Despite difficulties during and following the recession of 2009, buying power among Hispanics continues to escalate steeply,” IBISWorld wrote in the report.

According to IBISWorld, over the next five years, the nation’s buying power is projected to grow 27.5% to $14.7 trillion, while that of the Hispanic population is forecast to grow 48.1% to $1.6 trillion.

“Retail industries are some of the main beneficiaries of growing Hispanic buying power due to their long history of advertising toward the market. With concerted efforts by retailers to attract Hispanic consumers through English- and Spanish-language mediums, the sector’s share of the demographic is projected to swell,” IBISWorld wrote in the report.

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Survey: Consumers still cutting back, just not on gas, pharmacy or grocery

BY Michael Johnsen

TORONTO — That trip to the local restaurant is off the menu for consumers today, as are furnishings and electronics, Empathica reported on Thursday, citing its latest Consumer Insights Panel survey of more than 6,500 U.S. consumers. One-out-of-3 shoppers surveyed reported that the economy is still very much top of mind for them. But "need" items — gas, pharmacy and grocery — are not seeing declines in purchase intent compared to findings from this time the previous year, the report noted.

“The economy is affecting American consumers just as we expected with specific segments continuing to be challenged,” stated Gary Edwards, chief customer officer at Empathica. “The economy as a whole is still on the mend, and although we are starting to see an uptick in the job market, it doesn’t necessarily mean consumers are eager to spend. Uncertainty still remains among consumers with continued caution around spending on nonessentials.”


Survey results show that consumers are cutting the least on gas with nearly 9-out-of-10 consumers spending the same or more. When it comes to grocery, only 1-in-5 consumers reported a spending reduction versus 25% who expect to spend more. The survey also found that 1-in-4 consumers are cutting spending on pharmaceuticals, with 60% spending the same and 15% actually spending more.

Top segments where U.S. consumers are cutting spending include:

  1. Fine dining (71%);

  2. Furnishing (69%);

  3. Electronics (65%);

  4. Bars (64%);

  5. Airlines (62%);

  6. Hotels (61%);

  7. Clothing (58%);

  8. Department stores (55%);

  9. Casual dining (50%);

  10. Home improvement (49%);

  11. Convenience stores (45%);

  12. Quick service/fast food (42%);

  13. Pharmacy (25%);

  14. Supermarket/grocery (18%); and

  15. Gas stations (16%).

The survey revealed that the top two reasons consumers are cutting spending include concern about taking on more debt and having to pay more for basic housing and utility costs, so there is less money to spend on other things. In fact, consumers’ top three areas of concern were the economy (31%), debt (25%) and job security (19%).

Despite financial difficulty, consumers are more optimistic on their financial situation when looking ahead. Results show that 1-in-3 consumers think their financial situation will be much better or somewhat better. Nearly half of consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 years have a positive outlook on their financial situation. However, this optimism declines consistently as we look across each age range, with only 19% of those older than 65 years feeling the same as their grandchildren.

“It’s understandable that older generations are more reserved with their discretionary spending,” Edwards said. “They have experienced several bouts of economic instability throughout their lifetime, while younger generations are more optimistic, technologically savvy and interested in immediate satisfaction. These factors showcase why this generation is eager to spend more on goods that will enhance their quality of life in the short term without necessarily worrying about longer-term retirement needs.”

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Q&A: Northern focus

BY DSN STAFF

Retail pharmacy veteran Frank Scorpiniti officially assumed the role of CEO of Rexall Pharma Plus in February. Now that he’s settled in North of the Border, Scorpiniti talked with Drug Store News about his new role and his insights on the Canadian retail pharmacy market.

DSN: What are your key goals as CEO of Rexall Pharma Plus, and how would you describe your leadership style?

Frank Scorpiniti: We have just gone through a divestiture of what was our banner business, our Drug Trading business, and our franchise business. So, we are now a retail chain drug organization with 420 stores, and we find ourselves entering into the next phase of growth for the business. We are keenly focused on developing the strategy for the future and have a laser focus on driving the customer experience. As far as style, I’d share more what I value than style. I value, with the leadership team, transparency, collaboration and accountability for driving the customer experience and for driving teamwork across the organization.

DSN: How does the Canadian pharmacy market differ from the United States?

Scorpiniti: We are in an environment where everybody has healthcare coverage and yet, sometimes receiving health care in our landscape takes a little more time. So pharmacists … are on the front lines in communities for health care but even more so in Canada. Because our pharmacists are so accessible, and they have a slightly broader scope of practice in Canada than they have in the United States, [they] are doing more things like initiating therapy for minor ailments without collaborative practice agreements. They are extending prescriptions without orders from physicians in instances where appropriate. I see expanding the role of pharmacists as a trend that will continue. …
There is one area that’s quite different here in the Canadian landscape versus the United States, and that is that our payer base is very consolidated. … In the Canadian market, it is two [payers] at best, and, in many instances, the government sets the reimbursement rates not only for government-reimbursed prescriptions, but for the private [payer] as well. So when there’s any movement in reimbursement rates from the government, it goes across the entire revenue base and creates a much more significant impact at one time than what we dealt with in the U.S. model.

DSN:
Canada is facing several uphill battles, such as a reduction in generic prescription reimbursement rates and drug system reform initiatives. How is the company overcoming those challenges?

Scorpiniti:
We are focused on efficiency. We are focused on building our revenue base in our stores. We are focused on driving new patient care models. We have a very robust program in Ontario now called MedsCheck, where our pharmacists are evaluating patients that take three or more chronic medications on a regular basis. [The pharmacists] are ensuring that those medications are working appropriately with one another, avoiding drug interactions and interacting with their prescribers where necessary. This is a … pharmacist-patient interaction that is reimbursed and appreciated by patients. … We are [also focused] on diversifying our profit model to enhance our front-shop contribution to our business through broader product offerings and more relevant offerings.

To listen to the full audio Q&A, click here.

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