Louisiana becomes sixth state to restrict DXM sales to adults
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana on Tuesday became the sixth state to prohibit minors from purchasing over-the-counter cough medicines containing dextromethorphan as Gov. Bobby Jindal signed HB 514 into law.
“Over-the-counter cough medicine abuse raised my concerns because of the easy access teens have to the medicines,” stated Rep. Cameron, R-District 82, who sponsored the piece of legislation. “Prohibiting teens from purchasing these medicines on their own, without their parents’ knowledge, is one way to deter teens from engaging in this behavior."
"The passage of this legislation indicates the growing support in our country for laws to prohibit the sale of DXM to minors, which helps parents prevent their teens from abusing cough medicine," stated Scott Melville, president and CEO Consumer Healthcare Products Association. "While there is no one solution to this problem, restricting access is an important part of prevention along with encouraging parents to talk to their teens about the risks and to safeguard the medicines in their home."
According to the 2013 National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future Survey, approximately one in 25 teens abuses DXM to get high.
CHPA also supports a national age-18 sales restriction bill introduced in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, the Preventing Abuse of Cough Treatments Act of 2013 (S. 644 and H.R. 3969)
Selling wellness: Price a secondary concern as consumers seek healthier lives
Today’s consumers are increasingly looking for ways to live healthier lives, and often their desire for wellness overrides the desire for lower prices, prompting them to shop a specific store or buy a particular brand. It’s a mega-trend that shows no signs of slowing, and those retailers that can successfully leverage the new wellness urgency stand to reap the benefits, according to the new GMDC whitepaper, “Selling Wellness Across the Entire Store: Opportunities to Monetize Better-For-You HBW and GM.”
The study, conducted by The Hartman Group, not only sheds light on how wellness is part of consumers’ lives today and tomorrow, but also outlines key steps that retailers can take to become wellness leaders in their market.
“Stores that help transform customers from curious, to interested, to committed buyers of wellness products raise their potential to ring up more wellness-first and price-secondary sales. This could drive more trips, bigger baskets and fuller margins,” according to the report. “Also, stores that earn wellness reputations can draw shoppers while focusing less on price. This is true across health, beauty, general merchandise and food categories where wellness plays a role.”
In looking at today’s wellness consumers, researchers found that not all shoppers are created equal, and separated them into three different buckets: core (13%), which is the most committed group of wellness buyers; periphery (25%), which focuses on price and convenience, and thinks of wellness in a perfunctory way; and mid-level (62%), who possess moderate knowledge of wellness and a desire to somewhat buy and live like core shoppers.
But before diving into how to tailor to the specific kinds of wellness buyers, it is interesting to note that consumers have a very broad definition of wellness. To them, wellness goes beyond foods and includes such products as hair and skin care, eye and oral care, vitamins and supplements, baby needs, children’s hygiene and toiletries, cosmetics, feminine hygiene and OTC remedies, as well as GM — including home cleaning, laundry detergent, books and plant and garden care.
And, according to researchers, retailers also can raise their wellness image by offering ways to help consumers improve quality of life, such as services, expertise, messaging and caring support.
“Foods are the foremost wellness products, so stores that can connect food and non-food categories in meaningful ways for customers make buying easier, and help shoppers associate more areas of the selling floor with wellness — for example, sugar-free foods and treats near the pharmacy for people with diabetes,” the whitepaper stated.
In other words, dovetailing a non-foods wellness platform with one in foods can help a retailer boost credibility and emotional appeal.
Bridge the gap
There’s the saying that goes, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Well, maybe you can with gateway categories and bridge products.
“Gateway categories are pivotal entry ways for consumers into the world of wellness. People buy these initially, and their experiences can shape positive attitudes toward categories, brands and items within specific wellness destination stores,” the whitepaper stated.
Researchers noted that a change in a person’s life, such as childbirth or care of an elderly parent, can prompt a gateway purchase.
To succeed, researchers recommend that retailers and brands make wellness prominent at the shelf and relevant to targeted shopper missions. Merchandise, message, package and label wellness items appropriately.
It also is important to understand the benefits of bridge products or transitional choices. For example, a laundry detergent user can transition from a brand’s classic version to one free of perfumes and dyes before jumping, if ever, to a totally natural alternative, the whitepaper stated.
“Novice wellness buyers don’t appreciate the attributes of core products, so transitional choices like these give them an intermediate step to buy into, and help sustain their personal evolution in wellness,” researchers stated.
Researchers suggested displaying bridge products with obvious benefits to help periphery shoppers move up in the wellness categories to the mid-level or beyond.
To summarize their findings, researchers outlined the top seven recommendations for ways to lead in wellness and set stores and brands apart from price-driven rivals:
- The easier stores make it for wellness to be a seamless part of shopping trips, the greater the retail success;
- Embrace a wide view of wellness when marketing, since the biggest wellness opportunities relate to lifestyles rather than to acute medical conditions;
- Cultivate an e-presence since the primary wellness audience is escalating its use of the Internet, social media and smartphones to find product information;
- Emphasize sustainability to advanced wellness buyers because they connect their own well-being with that of society and the environment;
- Keep current with changing attitudes toward categories since wellness consumers think differently over time;
- Generate traffic and shoppers’ embrace of wellness with modern environments that suit the kinds of wellness buyers a store draws; and
- Wellness means so much to so many that it outranks price as a purchase factor for the most evolved shoppers. Unlike shop-to-save habits that permeate much of the store and restrict retail performance, wellness fervor has risen as a profit source.
GM hierarchy creates common language
Global Market Development Center and Nielsen last year released a platform to organize and quantify general merchandise category data in order to increase marketplace performance and provide better understanding of the general merchandise categories.
“It’s really no secret that something really important has been missing in the GM industry for quite a long time now,” Mike Winterbottom, GMDC VP information technology/CTO, told viewers of what is now an archived presentation introducing the GMDC/Nielsen GM Hierarchy on GMDC*Connect. “And that missing component has been a common framework, a common reference point.”
“A hierarchy is great because it does create that common language; it does create that common view into the conversation about general merchandise,” Stuart Taylor, Nielsen SVP custom analytics, reported on the GMDC*Connect archived presentation. “But it’s really just a starting point. What are you going to use it for?”
What the GM Hierarchy does is establish the size and share of GM and its categories and sub-categories across channels. Which categories are growing? Which are declining? What is GM’s share of store distribution by category? What are the characteristics of retailers who are growing with GM?
“The leaders appear to be finding growth trends within general merchandise and capitalizing on those sooner than the laggards,” Taylor said. “It seems like such a simple concept, but it makes such a big difference in market, in terms of not just driving general merchandise sales, but frankly, driving total store sales.”
One of the challenges seen in GM is a decline in share of shelf in grocery, despite the fact that the channel is growing in GM dollar sales, GMDC noted in a whitepaper that was released in January outlining the GM Hierarchy. Prior research from Nielsen has shown the importance of driving store traffic across the total store — if focus is only spent on the perimeter, then center store begins to shrink.
To measure the success of GM within grocery, GMDC and Nielsen divided the retail channel into four quadrants based on dollar sales per store that fundamentally categorized the level of success. Ninety reportable grocer retailers were included in the analysis, as they represent about 75% of the grocery channel, GMDC noted, excluding most independents and making the analysis generally chain-driven.
What GMDC and Nielsen found is that the top quadrant of supermarket retailers is growing four times as fast in GM as that of the next quadrant because they are driving growth in shopper-relevant GM categories, making them a viable choice for trips against competition. Qualities that further define the top quadrant are that they drive growth across both large and small GM categories, they invest in high-growth categories and they command a price premium while maintaining and growing unit turns.
Nielsen coded more than 20 million UPCs in an effort to define the common platform that makes up the GM Hierarchy. According to the research, the GM industry has $206 billion in all-outlet sales, with a growth rate of 0.4%. The GMDC/Nielsen GM Hierarchy confirmed that the top five best-selling GM categories in grocery are pet, candy, baby, household and social expressions. According to the whitepaper, seasonal, social expressions, sporting goods, electronics and apparel are the top five fastest-growing GM categories in supermarkets.
“Having the ability to compare our retailers’ GM performance on a category-by-category basis against the marketplace will help us to analyze where there are issues,” said Bob Zekis, EVP business development of Imperial Distributors, in the whitepaper. “Poor performance might indicate assortment issues, promotional issues, merchandising issues or opportunities with space allocation. There may be operational issues within the stores, or even organization issues. Now that the data says this is what’s working and this is what’s not, we want to ensure that we capitalize on what is working and take remedial action against what isn’t.”