H1N1 drop-off, leftover stock could mean ‘weak’ season
NEW YORK —H1N1 proved to be a significant driver behind cough-cold sales this past season, though overall illness rates were low relative to years past, and it still was considered a “weak” season.
The H1N1 hype certainly drove retailers to stock their cough-cold sets early in the cold season, though. But the precipitous drop-off in illness rates after the first of the year may have retailers cautious going into the 2010-2011 season. “The recent indication from the [Flu/Cold/Respiratory Activity Notification is that] they are predicting that [illness rates] will be the same level as this past year,” said Matrixx Initiatives president and CEO Bill Hemelt during a recent conference call. “So that assumes a relatively weak season [for 2010-2011].”
Hemelt also noted that there are several retailers who still are heavy in cough-cold product coming out of this past season, which suggests they won’t be heavy buyers going into next season.
A recent Harris Interactive poll measuring public perception found that only 12% of adults thought they had the flu this past winter, fewer than the 15% to 21% who thought they had the flu in other winters since 2004.
Separately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more Americans were actually vaccinated against seasonal flu during the 2009-2010 season (40% of eligible population) as compared with the prior season, when 33% of the eligible population was inoculated. The greatest gain in vaccination rates was in children 6 months to 17 years. Approximately 40% of children were vaccinated for seasonal flu last season, representing a 16% point jump from the 2008-2009 season.
“This report shows real success in vaccinating school-aged children, and it underscores additional opportunities to expand the use of school-located clinics in the 2010-11 season,” stated Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
NACDS puts a new spin on Meet the Market
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.
Retail clinic growth slowing down? Not a chance
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.