PHARMACY

Growing Hispanic consumer power increases need for outreach from retailers, suppliers

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Hispanics represent one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in the United States, so naturally, it would behoove retailers to pay heed to this growing trend.

(THE NEWS: Hispanic consumers’ buying power to grow 50% by 2015. For the complete story, click here.)

According to the Census Bureau, the Hispanic population grew from 35.3 million in 2000 to 50.5 million in 2010, a 43% increase, while the non-Hispanic white population is expected to be just more than half of the population in the next 30 years. But many suppliers and retailers aren’t waiting to adapt their marketing strategies until then — they’re doing it now.

On Tuesday, Coors announced a series of new Web and smartphone media designed to reach out to Hispanic consumers as part of its sponsorship of Mexico’s Primera soccer division. Meanwhile, Clorox announced last week a partnership with the National Association of Hispanic Nurses to launch the Hispanic Nurses Network, a healthcare resource for Hispanic families that includes media interviews at local outlets and Q&A sessions at Facebook.com/CloroxLatino.

Retailers have been targeting the Hispanic community as well. Miami-based Navarro Discount Pharmacy, which is Hispanic-owned and serves an area with one of the largest Hispanic populations in the country, has made serving the Hispanic community one of the centerpieces of its business. In November, the company unveiled Vida Mia ("My Life"), a Hispanic-oriented private-label line that includes more than 300 SKUs in categories ranging from food to OTC medicines to household and beauty products with bilingual English-Spanish packaging. Navarro’s stores also include products like chili peppers, piñatas and Jumex-brand nectars.

Farther up north, in November 2011, Walgreens signed on as a presenting sponsor of the fifth annual Latino Fashion Week in Chicago, another city with a rapidly growing Hispanic population. Walgreens divisional VP diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer Steve Pemberton was on hand to help kick off the event, which drew more than 10,000 attendees.

Kmart and parent company Sears Holdings also have reached out to the Hispanic community with an online Spanish-language TV series produced in the style of Latin American "telenovela" shows and the Latina Smart scholarship campaign.

Meanwhile, supermarket chain Winn-Dixie unveiled in December 2011 a remodeled store in Miami that includes a full-service Cuban cafe with such items as empanadas, as well as bilingual signage.

Growing consumer power reaches behind the counter and into the healthcare field as well. In October 2011, CVS Caremark announced a partnership with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation to encourage young Hispanics to become healthcare professionals, recognizing more than 30 high school seniors of Hispanic descent for their academic performance, community service and interest in pursuing healthcare careers who would receive educational grants from the company and exposure to experts in healthcare fields, mentoring and internship opportunities in college.

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NCPA: Nearly 1,500 community pharmacies participate in Dispose My Meds program

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association and Sharps Compliance said community pharmacies nationwide are ready for consumers to safely dispose of unused patient medications.

According to the NCPA and Sharps Compliance, there are nearly 1,500 pharmacies involved in their Dispose My Meds program, which launched in 2010. Many of the pharmacies are promoting their services in the Dispose My Meds campaign just in time for Earth Day this Sunday, April 22. At participating pharmacies, consumers may be able to dispose of unused medications with postage-paid envelopes or participate in onsite programs where pharmaceuticals are collected and disposed of properly.

"Safe and practical disposal programs make a real difference in addressing this growing public health concern," said Lonny Wilson, NCPA president and pharmacy owner in Oklahoma City. "I commend these pharmacies for stepping up for the good of their communities and their patients. And, hopefully, consumers will gain a greater appreciation of their local community pharmacy."


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Consumer groups go on record in support of retail pharmacy versus ESI-Medco merger

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH — The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday accepted an amici curiae from the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices and U.S. PIRG (a federation of 28 nonprofit, nonpartisan state Public Interest Research Groups) on behalf of retail pharmacy plaintiffs in their suit to dismantle the Express Scripts-Medco merger.

"Amici have long been concerned by the egregious, deceptive and anticompetitive conduct of [pharmacy benefit managers]," the groups noted. "Notwithstanding any cost benefits [pharmacy benefit managers] offer, they often harm consumers by engaging in deceptive practices, eliminating access to vital healthcare services and reducing consumer choice."

The amici made a three-pronged argument against the merger — notably that the resulting super-PBM would represent an increase in consumer costs and a decline in consumer choice. The third concern identified by the amici regarded the potential for an ESI-Medco combination to dominate the business of specialty pharmacy. "This incredible consolidation of the specialty market is of particular concern to consumers given the fact that specialty drugs are expected to be the single greatest cost-driver in pharmaceutical spending over the next decade," the groups wrote. "The cost of specialty drugs is rising rapidly, increasing by 19.6% in 2010 to reach as high as 27.5% by 2013. Meanwhile, by 2016, eight of the top 10 prescription drugs are expected to be specialty."

The brief was filed in support of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and nine individual retail pharmacy operators’ suit to reverse the ESI-Medco merger that was approved by the Federal Trade Commission at the beginning of April.

The judge presiding in that case, U.S. District judge Cathy Bissoon, entertained arguments from both the plaintiffs and defendants on April 10, but has yet to rule in the case.

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