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Retailers, wellness cos. smarten up marketing with mobile phone apps

BY DSN STAFF

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. —Convincing the consumer to toss one more item in the market basket—is there an app for that? The answer seems to be a resounding “yes,” as more health-and-wellness-oriented apps proliferate across iPhone, Droid and Palm’s webOS platforms. And with Apple announcing that its iPad reached 1 million units sold after less than one month on the market, there soon may be another shopping/retailing tool added to the millions of iPhones and Droid phones already out there.

Last month, Drug Store News reported an agreement between Rite Aid and American Well that allows consumers to video conference with a Rite Aid pharmacist on their desktop computers, and an app enabling that patient-pharmacist dialogue is expected to launch later this year. “Mobile device supports for this system are pending,” reported Roy Schoenberg, president and CEO of American Well. “You will see it very soon,” he added, especially as more smartphones reach the marketplace that can utilize a 4G wireless network.

“4G technology differs from 3G service in that it handles all services—voice, Internet access, etc.—in the same way, as packets of data,” explained PCWorld reporter Mark Sullivan in a recent article. “4G also uses different, and better, wireless spectrum than 3G service does, and is capable of providing far better speeds to far more people at the same time.”

While videoconferencing a pharmacist on a smartphone at the shelf may not be considered commonplace for quite some time, tools to help consumers make better health-and-wellness product selections are either on the market today or being launched soon.

Evincii last fall launched such an application, called PICKKA, which provides the consumer with a “pharmacist in your pocket” functionality to better navigate the increasingly complex world of over-the-counter medicines. In March, Evincii broadened its health-and-wellness appeal with its “Shop to Lose,” an app that guides consumers to buy the right food products and prevents them from making unhealthy food choices.

And Aisle7, formerly Health-Notes, currently is working on expanding its Aisle7 Online offering so that it can be readily accessed on mobile phones. “We have a number of engagements that are currently in development and expect to be announcing our first rollout shortly,” Bill Schneider, senior product director for Aisle7, told Drug Store News. “We see mobile applications—including iPad — as a great opportunity for retailers to reach out to consumers as they are ‘on the go,’ as well as while they’re in the store.

While these apps are promising, the demographics of today’s app users doesn’t altogether match the typical drug store shopper. According to a January 2010 AdMob survey, 73% of Droid users are male, compared with 58% of webOS users and 57% of iPhone users.

And it’s not just a younger generation using those smartphones—32% of iPhone users are over the age of 45, while 25% of Droid users and 23% of webOS users are of baby boomer age.

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NACDS puts a new spin on Meet the Market

BY Michael Johnsen

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.

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Retail clinic growth slowing down? Not a chance

BY Antoinette Alexander

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.

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