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Last-minute shoppers can boost retail sales during the holidays

BY Allison Cerra

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. Retailers can look to last-minute holiday shoppers to bring in the big bucks, according to new research by Acxiom, a global leader in marketing services and technology.

The study, “Generate More Jingle This Holiday Season,” noted that 2-out-of-10 consumers don’t start their holiday shopping until December, a sure-fire way for retailers to get that extra sales boost at the year-end.

Acxiom also found that:

  • Men account for nearly two-thirds of the power and panic-shopper dollars spent;
  • Age, gender and time left to shop may combine to affect where they choose to shop. For example, both men and women panic-shoppers under 35 years are more likely than their over-35 counterparts to shop department stores, while male panic shoppers under 35 years consider electronics stores to be a strong option; and
  • Ethnicity also may be a factor as nearly twice as many female as male panic-shoppers are of Hispanic descent, and more than twice as many female as male panic-shoppers are African-American.

The research also emphasized ways retailers can get in on the last-minute shopping game. By employing such innovations as direct-to-consumer texting and instant messaging, increase of media broadcast and reconfiguring in-store tactics, such as promotional displays and endcaps, can leverage the combination of shopper types as well as gender.

“Retailers are always looking to make the most of the holiday shopping season,” said Jim Harold, VP of Acxiom’s retail and consumer markets group. “By employing multidimensional insights to adjust media mix and spend, and personalizing the content and cadence of marketing messages, retailers can get greater share of the $23 billion spent by last-minute holiday shoppers.

“Understanding last-minute holiday shoppers and their spending habits will allow marketers to more effectively allocate marketing dollars across a broader spectrum of media options,” Harold said.

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Study questions accuracy of health info shared through social media

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. A recent study of diabetes information shared on Facebook raised questions about the accuracy of the information on social media sites and its sources, according to the research sponsored by CVS Caremark.

 

Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted the survey as part of CVS Caremark’s previously announced three-year collaboration with the researchers. Researchers evaluated 690 individual postings on wall pages and discussion boards written by 480 unique users. The 15 diabetes-related Facebook sites had an average of 9,289 participants.

 

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to analyze in detail the quality of the information that people with diabetes are sharing with each other through Facebook," stated William Shrank, senior author of the study. "There are certainly public health benefits that can be garnered from these sites — but patients and doctors need to know it is really the Wild West out there."

The researchers found "tentative support" for the health benefits of social media in the management of chronic disease — evidence of patients sharing valuable insights into their conditions not typically available through traditional medical channels, as well as evidence of community-building where emotional support is abundant. However, 1-in-4 comments on these sites were promotional in nature, generally for non-FDA-approved products.

The researchers also identified numerous incidences of surveys, marketing pitches and efforts to recruit patients for clinical trials where the true identity of the poster could not be confirmed. The results of the study were published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Additional findings include:

 

  • Amajority of posts (66%) are individuals describing their personal experiences with managing diabetes;
  • Nearly one-quarter of the posts (24%) represent sharing of personal information that is unlikely to be shared between patient and doctors, such as individuals discussing carbohydrate management in the setting of alcohol consumption;
  • Twenty-nine percent of the posts are by diabetic patients providing emotional support to others grappling with aspects of the disease;
  • Thirteen percent of the posts are providing specific feedback to information requests by others in the diabetic community; and
  • Twenty-seven percent of the posts feature promotional activity and first-person testimonials around non-FDA-approved products and services.

 

"Social media is an evolving forum that clearly is attractive to people looking to share information and to find support and strategies for living with chronic diseases," stated Troyen Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. "This study shows the many ways that patients are benefiting from social media networks but is critically important for patients to understand the need for fact-checking."

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Amgen R&D chief testifies at FDA biosimilar hearing

BY Rob Eder

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. Amgen’s SVP research and development, Joe Miletich, urged members of a Food and Drug Administration panel to establish approval standards for biosimilars that ensure patient safety and follow a science-based approach.

“Put patients first and sound policy will follow,” Miletich said. “Amgen believes biosimilars have a meaningful role to play in the healthcare system. However, dissimilar — unlike generic drugs — are not identical to the innovative biological products.” 

In his testimony, Miletich outlined three key recommendations:

 

  • Use well-designed clinical trials to establish biosimilarity;
  • Ensure the product manufacturer and lot number is known for all administered biological; and
  • Set scientific and practical criteria for interchangeability.

 

“The challenge with biosimilars is knowing which structural variations matter clinically and which do not. Many differences probably do not matter, while some differences are important,” Miletich said. “Minor changes in structure, formulation or impurities can have a significant impact on patients that cannot always be anticipated with analytical studies.”

In a company statement, Amgen noted that the experience with biosimilar applications in Europe demonstrated the need for clinical trials. “Approximately half of the biosimilars developed in Europe have had unexpected clinical outcomes at some point in their development. Clinical trials are an essential step in evaluating differences between medicines that analytical and pre-clinical studies indicate are similar. Equally important, we must ensure accountability through accurate tracking and tracing of all biological products,” the company stated.

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