Marketing condoms for the female buyer
Move over fellas; the condom aisle isn’t just for men anymore. Well, it never was really, but as retail pharmacies become more adept at discreetly merchandising intimacy health — remember when the pharmacist had to pull the condom display from behind the counter? — there is a trend developing toward marketing condoms with the female buyer in mind.
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The Female Health Co. in May announced a targeted media plan and a focus on developing a line of women’s reproductive health products in support of its one SKU — the FC2 Female Condom. The company will concentrate on targeting women who are dissatisfied with the side effects of hormonal birth control, and who feel that the traditional male condom offers less enjoyment.
And both Lovability Inc. and Sustain Condoms are relatively new companies entering the prophylactic space with a focus on marketing toward women. Lovability has designed a condom it thinks women will feel comfortable carrying in their purses. They contract manufacture through NRS Global Partners, and their Indiegogo capital-raising campaign was 184% funded on Feb. 15.
Meanwhile, Sustain Condoms has committed 10% of pre-tax profits to reproductive health care as part of its 10%4Women initiative in an effort to address the estimated 17.4 million women in need of publicly funded reproductive health and family planning services.
Overall, 80% of millennials agree that condom use is important, but only 35% say they always use one, according to a recent Trojan survey. And while 83% of women feel it’s a shared responsibility to suggest using a condom, only 13% of women bought condoms for their most recent sexual encounter.
Don’t be a glass-half-empty merchandiser, however, because that 87% who did not buy represents a market opportunity. And the category could use the boost in actively buying consumers — sales of male contraceptives were flat (up 0.4%) for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 28, 2014, reaching $382.5 million across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI. Sales of female contraceptives (made up of almost entirely emergency contraceptives) totaled $277.7 million on 15.6% growth.
“Condoms are mostly marketed toward men,” said Meika Hollender, marketing director for Sustain Condoms in an interview last year with “Running Late with Scott Rogowsky,” a local New York talk show. “Women have been conditioned to think that men are supposed to buy the condoms and carry the condoms.”
Potential of wearable health devices grows
Still in their infancy, wearable health devices offer pharmacists an opportunity to be on the frontlines of what many feel could be an essential part of health care’s future.
(To view the full Category Review, click here.)
Suppliers and healthcare analysts say that pharmacists are well positioned to be the go-to healthcare professionals to help patients make the most of the data that these devices record, ensuring that the information collected is used to prevent illness and drive outcomes.
As technology companies have delved deeper into health and wellness, the market has seen the development of wearable devices that do everything from monitor activity and sleep patterns to detect body temperature, heart rate, hydration levels and a range of other essential body functions.
Utilizing sophisticated analytic software, these devices let consumers manage their health while giving healthcare providers a powerful tool to monitor (often remotely) patients’ health, improve their care and reduce costs.
In addition, the data collected from wearables allow members of a patient’s healthcare team to meet the growing need to prove that their efforts are driving outcomes.
The potential of wearable devices to revolutionize the way health care is provided across the entire healthcare system is fueling investment in digital health and wearable technology with some forecasters predicting that the market will show huge growth over the next few years. Some estimates said the global market for wearables could expand by as much as 30% a year through 2019.
One of the reasons for the optimism about the vast potential of wearable devices to change the way health care is provided can be found with the number of potential new users for these devices. In a survey of 1,000 patients conducted last summer, PricewaterhouseCoopers found that only 1-in-5 adults in the United States owns a wearable health device and only 1-in-10 use that device every day.
From OTC aisles to fresh fruit: Spreading the health message across the store
Walmart means health and wellness. Increasingly, that’s the message that Wal-Mart Stores is working to convey to the 140 million Americans who walk through its store aisles each week. While the company will continue to serve as the nation’s primary stop for candy, soda, electronics, paper products, gardening supplies and a host of other everyday items, its merchants are elevating the role of over-the-counter medicines, diagnostic and fitness products and other health-related items.
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Marcus Osborne, VP of health-and-wellness payer relations for Walmart U.S., told former U.S. Senate majority leader and physician Bill Frist last February that nonprescription medicines and other over-the-counter products comprise one of the four pillars of Walmart’s strategy for engaging with its customers more effectively as a primary source for health-and-wellness products and services, along with the pharmacy, the vision and hearing clinics, and the new Walmart Care Clinic program.
In part, the elevation and realignment of OTCs and related-health items are about coordinating “departments like baby care and other offerings that holistically mean health and wellness to the customer,” said Paul Beahm, SVP health-and-wellness operations for Walmart U.S. It’s also about using those products to build an overall image of a healthier and more cohesive product offering. By aligning the sales goals and marketing efforts of different store departments more effectively, Walmart’s managers are using those products to boost cross-departmental sales throughout the store — and to steer more shoppers to the pharmacy, vision center and OTC aisles.
Given the aging population, Walmart is also focusing more aggressively on durable medical equipment and home health care, said Labeed Diab, president of health-and-wellness for Walmart U.S. “It’s a one-stop shop,” he noted.
‘The No. 1 share in OTC’
The expanding selection of health-related products like OTC medicines, mobility equipment, diabetic supplies, wearable monitors and active-lifestyle fitness gear fits perfectly with the company’s goal “to be our customers’ destination for everything they need to manage their health.”
That means that “in addition to over-the-counter medicines, prescriptions, blood pressure monitors and advice on health insurance, we have the majority of products customers actually need to live a healthy life, such as fresh produce, apparel, exercise equipment and wearable technology,” the company reports.
What’s more, “we have the No. 1 share in OTC, at a great low price,” Diab said.
It bears repeating that Walmart’s approach in its OTC aisles mirrors that of the rest of the store: to deliver on value and selection. “Our strategy is to lead on price, invest to differentiate on access, be competitive on assortment and deliver a great experience,” the company reported recently. “By leading on price, we earn the trust of our customers every day by providing a broad assortment of quality merchandise and services at everyday low prices. Price leadership is core to who we are,” Walmart adds.
In its 2015 annual shareholders’ report, the company calls itself “an agent for our customer, driving value through improving quality and expanding key brands, at an everyday low price.”
“Additionally, by leveraging our unified physical and digital capabilities, customers have access to approximately 8 million items across our entire product offering, with more to come this year,” the company noted.
‘An opportunity for us’
Sales of over-the-counter medicines and other nonprescription health products were up a respectable 2% last year, according to company reports, and the OTC category still offers plenty of growth potential, Beahm said. “When an item goes from prescription to OTC [status], it’s an opportunity for us to significantly grow our share,” he said. “So the way you really take advantage of that is not just in pharmacy, but by collaborating with the [rest of the] leadership team and making [an Rx-to-OTC product like] Flonase come alive not just in health and wellness, but come alive wherever it’s important to the shopper — such as grocery or lawn and garden.”