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Meeting digitally on GMDC*Connect

BY Michael Johnsen

Now in its third year, utilization of the Global Market Development Center’s teleconferencing solution — GMDC*Connect powered by Telepresence — continues to be on the rise, noted Mark Mechelse, GMDC director of research, industry insights and communications.

Heading into the association’s 2014 Health, Beauty and Wellness Marketing Conference, GMDC boasted as many as 1,820 unique visitors to the GMDC*Connect site in the month of April, and that doesn’t include those members who have subscribed to the GMDC*Connect channel on Ustream.tv. “So far on our Ustream, we’ve had 2,075 users come back to watch recorded events,” Mechelse said.

GMDC*Connect is seeing more traffic because it is a convenient, cost-efficient resource that can connect a sales team to their retail buyers remotely, saving on travel expenses. “We’ve already had a lot of comments from retailers who are meeting with vendors through GMDC*Connect, saying, ‘This is saving me time and travel,’” Mechelse said.

At the Health, Beauty and Wellness Marketing Conference GMDC*Connect will highlight a new access card program. The cards are customized to each member with their credentials, giving them easy access to GMDC*Connect and enabling them to invite other companies to participate in live meetings from their laptops. Compared with other videocast services, GMDC*Connect is a high-quality service that costs nothing extra for members,
Mechelse noted.

GMDC*Connect also is a conduit for relevant industry education. GMDC*Connect hosts two unique speakers each month who address issues pertinent to GMDC’s membership base.

And it’s a repository for industry whitepapers and business reports on trending conditions, new markets and best practices that can either be consumed as a live webcast when first introduced or viewed as an archived resource at the convenience of the user through the myContent Library tab. In addition to whitepapers and business reports, GMDC*Connect hosts annual research with published surveys and testimonials from leading retailers and wholesalers.

“GMDC has more research and education than ever before,” Mechelse said. “[At the meeting], we’re highlighting five brand-new whitepapers that have been launched over the past few weeks. The big one is ‘Seasonal Best Practices, Fall and Winter Seasons,’” he said. The 20-page report includes first-hand surveys and virtual roundtables with retailers who share their success stories in seasonal merchandising.

Another recent whitepaper released by GMDC focused on the Hispanic consumer. At the time of the live stream, it was a very popular release, Mechelse noted.

In January, GMDC released a whitepaper, “Amazon in Focus: Overview,” which summarized an analysis of Amazon’s business model that was presented by Keith Anderson, VP and senior analyst at RetailNet Group, in a GMDC*Connect videocast. That has since become one of the most viewed sessions on GMDC* Connect, Mechelse said. At the Health, Beauty and Wellness Marketing Conference, GMDC will introduce a part-two to this Amazon series. “Back by popular demand, we’re going into a much deeper dive into Amazon, and that whitepaper is going to be launched during the conference,” Mechelse said.

In the content library on GMDC.org, users will find the new GMDC/Nielsen GM Hierarchy (see page 6) — a resource tool introduced in March that captures GM categories from a consumer’s perspective, tracking sales and measuring merchandising trends. Under this tab, there also are other whitepapers and GMDC*Connect archived reports.

GMDC*Connect also extends the reach of GMDC’s usual physical meetings to incorporate virtual connections to company headquarters or even more remote locations, such as home offices or those traveling who rely on tablet technology. At the 2014 HBW event, for example, one senior grocery executive who has a prior personal engagement won’t have to miss the HBW conference thanks to GMDC*Connect.

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Merchandising cough-cold

BY Michael Johnsen

Purveyors of cough, cold and flu remedies looking to bring category merchandising best practices up to speed under present shopping paradigms can look to GMDC’s recently published “Seasonal Best Practices for the New World of Shopping: Part One.”

Cold and flu prevention today is as important to the marketing mix as acute care treatments, and retail pharmacy is fast becoming a one-stop shop. Flu shots at the pharmacy can help prevent, clinics can treat and OTC remedies enable self-care, according to the report. Currently, 21% of U.S. adults say they’ve received a vaccine of any kind in a drug store, according to the NCL Vaccine Study conducted by Harris Interactive for the National Consumers League.

Having an in-stock position across all remedies and a nearby health professional to make recommendations are two key elements of success for today’s cold and flu business. Citing a 2010 McNeil study, the report noted that 54% of cough-cold customers don’t know which medicine they’ll buy until they reach the shelf. And according to earlier GMDC research, 80% of respiratory category shoppers organize their trip around a cough-cold purchase, and 74% spend more than one minute looking for products.

That makes cough, cold and flu a destination category that should be augmented with solution center displays by mid-September, well in advance of the official cough-cold season.

Product variety and new product launches are important to this category; to ease the complexity of shopping, the section offerings ought to be organized by symptom before being blocked by brand. Ads should feature the most severe symptoms and run weekly early in the season, and frequently thereafter, the report noted. From September to March, that’s coughing, chest congestion and nasal congestion. From January to March, that’s sore throat, low fever and high fever.

Relevant adjacencies include care and comfort products, including thermometers, ice packs, pain relievers, tea, soup, oatmeal, tissues, cough drops, lip balm, eye drops, vitamins, vaporizers, humidifiers and heating pads.

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Retail pharmacy, clinics rise to the challenge of healthcare reform

BY Antoinette Alexander

It could be described as a perfect storm. The U.S. healthcare system is working to tackle soaring costs, a lack of ample accountability and a lack of access to primary care physicians as millions of previously uninsured Americans gain insurance via health reform. Despite the challenges presented by this new era of health care, the reality is that there’s rarely been a more promising time for retail healthcare delivery.

That is a key message of the GMDC whitepaper, “The Changing Healthcare Scene @ Retail: Retailers Setting the Stage for a Greater Role in U.S. Healthcare Delivery.”

“If stores are to optimize their health offers, they need to overcome many external and internal challenges. They must define and assert their larger roles in a market roiled by economic and legislative change — most notably the Affordable Care Act, effective at the start of 2014. They must advance their case to health officials and the public to heighten enthusiasm and growth prospects,” the whitepaper stated. “Why? To stand up against members of the medical establishment who’d rather dismiss stores than recognize their value in augmenting physician care, and to position stores for where health care appears to be heading.”

By raising the perception of retail health products and services, retail stores can enhance value and become a seamless part of the evolving healthcare landscape. While some retailers are making some significant progress, the whitepaper further details trends and documents research to help retailers further optimize their health investments.

Government payers and insurers want providers to be more accountable for better patient outcomes, and medication management is key to these results. In light of this, the focus on patient counseling by pharmacists has intensified.

Furthermore, pharmacists can not only lift aisle sales by guiding patients to the right OTC medications and nutritionals for their condition, but they also can help patients to self-care.

“OTCs effectively help people to self-care, save time and the expense of seeing doctors for relatively minor ailments, and avoid exposure to sick people in waiting rooms. Indeed, the availability of OTCs is key to providing symptomatic relief to an estimated 60 million people who otherwise would not seek treatment,” the whitepaper stated, citing a Booz & Co. study done by the CHPA.

The whitepaper also noted that switch products that hit shelves amid the implementation of the ACA coincided with the rise in self-care driving more traffic to stores. Rx-to-OTC switches can be a triple-win as retailers gain more store visits, aisle traffic and category sales; consumers have easy access to effective remedies; and brands extend revenue streams beyond their patent expirations.

Then there are retail-based health clinics. Such clinics are increasingly demonstrating their importance within the healthcare system and are no doubt poised for expansion. Aside from expanding their geographic footprint and scope of service — through such offerings as helping patients manage such chronic conditions as diabetes and high cholesterol — clinics also are forming a number of strategic affiliations with health systems.

Furthermore, the whitepaper noted a rise in telemedicine at retail.

“Stores increasingly address both acute care and preventive needs — at a time when millions of Americans lack access to primary care physicians, and most who struggle in this economy feel they can’t afford to get sick so they’d better act more responsibly for their own wellness,” the whitepaper stated. “This provides a sweet spot for stores: Pharmacy and OTCs/nutritionals continue to anchor the retail health portfolio, as they have for decades. Clinics are on the rise. And … retailers increasingly try to connect the better-for-you food and non-foods sides of consumer health more closely.”

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