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Easing boomers’ pain spells merch opportunity

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK —As more baby boomers approach their senior years—the oldest of the baby boomers turn 64 this year—the need for chronic pain relief increasingly will become a common denominator among this key demographic. With that older demographic comes an increased incidence of arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes-related neuropathy or any number of age-related chronic pain issues.

And as more customers shop the analgesics set more often in search of a solution, it becomes more important to keep those shelves—both internal and external analgesics—stocked with new products.

That makes merchandising specifically against chronic pain an ideal incremental opportunity, noted Gregg Harwood, president of Thermionics. According to recent Thermionics research, 80% of consumers who are treating for chronic pain not only purchase multiple solutions across internal analgesics, external rubs, heat/ice therapy and body support devices, but also shop those sets on a regular basis. Such drug-free solutions as heat/ice packs, for example, have been trending up as of late. Overall, the category climbed 6.5% to $148.6 million for the 52 weeks ended April 18 across food, drug and mass (excluding Walmart), according to SymphonyIRI Group data.

And right now, more times than not, those consumers are walking away from that shopping trip empty-handed. “Two-out-of-3 shoppers are walking that [pain relief] aisle and not making a purchase,” Harwood said. “They’re looking for something and not buying.”

And soothing that pain is more than likely a moving target for those consumers. “There’s always something. Each person really has to design [his or her] own regimen that deals with that pain because it’s unique to [him or her],” Harwood added. That incessant need to find a new or different solution should be driving consumers toward external analgesic items, especially as the warning labels of many internal analgesics advise patients to discontinue use or to see a doctor if the pain-relief need persists for more than 10 days.

There may be an opportunity for a chronic-pain management destination center within the self-care space, much like there is a destination center at many retailers focused around diabetes-related products. For example, an endcap dedicated to addressing chronic pain needs that’s regularly refreshed may not only help place additional products into the market basket, it could create a need for a repeat visit from that chronic pain sufferer, just to check out what’s new.

“The pain doesn’t go away, you just have to find a new way to manage it, so [chronic sufferers] want new options,” Harwood said. And that necessarily doesn’t mean they stop buying products that fold into their traditional pain-relieving regimen, Harwood added. Oftentimes it just means they’re placing that one additional pain-relief item in their baskets.

Heat and ice packs sales

*In millions† Versus year-ago period Source: SymphonyIRI Group for 52 weeks ended April 18 across FDMx
BRAND DOLLAR SALES* %CHANGE†
Thermacare $49.5 7.5%
Store brand 47.9 39.2
Ace 6.2 -13.8
Thermipaq 5.9 47.0
Bed Buddy 3.6 -45.4

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NACDS puts a new spin on Meet the Market

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO This year the National Association of Chain Drug Stores introduced two new features to its Meet the Market format. First, NACDS hosted a Meet the Market Presentation Template webinar twice prior to Meet the Market, in which NACDS introduced a meeting template that succinctly captured all of the information retailers typically use to evaluate a new product or company.

Also new to Meet the Market were the booths of 10 service companies — trade media and professional education, merchandising consultants and marketing/media information companies — which afforded an opportunity for new and smaller suppliers to meet with these organizations.

“New companies have a need not only to meet with retailers, obviously, they have a need for their business,” noted Jim Whitman, NACDS SVP meetings and conferences. Another ongoing improvement is the productivity within each meeting, Whitman added. “We keep refining the match, the appointments,” he said.

This year, the Meet the Market format — in which smaller and new suppliers have 10-minute meetings with their category buyers — represented more than 8,000 face-to-face pre-arranged appointments.

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Retail clinic growth slowing down? Not a chance

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The news that Target is looking to expand its retail-based clinic business this year is yet one more indicator that reports of the demise of retail clinic growth have been greatly exaggerated.

(THE NEWS: Target to expand its retail clinic presence. For the full story, click here)

As the article states, Target, which opened its first clinic in 2006, is looking to open up eight new locations this September. It already operates 28 locations in Minnesota and Maryland.

It wasn’t so long ago — April to be exact — that CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic indicated that it could double its current number of clinics in five years.

Why the growth? Well, aside from the aging population and a shortage of primary care physicians, a major catalyst is healthcare reform, which will mean that 32 million people who currently are uninsured will have healthcare coverage. With emergency rooms already overflowing, and primary care physicians already over-extended, having a retail clinic nearby where patients can receive convenient, quality and affordable health care will only become increasingly important.

Meanwhile, RediClinic, which has 22 clinics in H-E-B stores in Houston and Austin, Texas, is cranking up its marketing efforts and has tapped former Duane Reade executive Jeff Thompson as VP marketing. Thompson will be responsible for RediClinic’s consumer and partner marketing activities, including developing and implementing strategic customer acquisition/retention programs, new product delivery and brand strategy.

Thompson most recently served as VP marketing for Duane Reade.

Clearly, there continues to be significant growth opportunities for clinics — both in terms of the number of clinic locations and the scope of services offered within the clinics. As mentioned earlier, there are 32 million reasons why the growth will be quite dramatic.

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