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What goes around comes around

BY Dave Wendland

I can hardly believe that I will once again have the distinct honor of facilitating a discussion with an impressive panel of industry leaders from both the retail and supplier side in this, my tenth appearance as moderator of Drug Store News’ Annual Diabetes Forum.

Change is constant in our industry: mergers, acquisitions, competitive newcomers, economic challenges, healthcare reform, governmental restrictions and an aging population. For as much change as we have endured, there remains a daunting challenge for the healthcare system at large that has far-reaching implications. And that is the maintenance of healthy lifestyles to prevent chronic conditions — such as diabetes.

I believe it is incumbent upon each sector of the healthcare value chain to raise awareness and focus on prevention. Chronic conditions are crippling our society and affecting our ability to provide quality care at an affordable price. Such chronic diseases as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. These diagnoses account for 7-of-every-10 deaths and affect the quality of life of 90 million Americans.

Although common and costly, many chronic diseases are preventable. It begins with lifestyle choices that are within the power of individuals to change. Nutritious eating, physical activity and avoiding tobacco are steps everyone can take to avoid these conditions. And, even if an individual is already living with diabetes, heart disease, arthritis or another chronic condition, eating more healthful food and getting more exercise can go a long way toward better managing the illness, avoiding complications and prolonging life.

I’ve often wondered what it would look like if we could transform retail pharmacy to focus on prevention rather than on treating the sick. Could a diabetes-focused category be merchandised that begins with diet and exercise rather than blood glucose meters and test strips? Do you think this could place a much-needed spotlight on the progression of a chronic condition like diabetes and change lifestyles?


Hamacher Resource Group vice president Dave Wendland, a 20-plus-year retail industry veteran, is a popular presenter and discussion facilitator available to speak at corporate and association events on a variety of retail-related topics. HRG is a research, marketing and category management firm specializing in consumer health care at retail. Product manufacturers, healthcare distributors, retailers, technology partners and others rely on HRG for strategic and creative solutions to help build their business. Learn more at www.hamacher.com.

MORE ARTICLES FROM DAVE WENDLAND >

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D.WENDLAND says:
Dec-09-2013 05:44 pm

Thank you for contributing to the discussion. The journey to better health -- or to chronic condition management or prevention -- is indeed a personal one. And the entry point to that journey is as unique as individuals themselves. I tend to agree that enabling software will emerge that drives better outcomes. We must not, however, lose sight that we will forever be in the people business.

K.McGuinness says:
Dec-04-2013 02:43 pm

Dave, I believe the answer to both questions is yes. Weight management and associated chronic diseases have macroeconomic consequences. The policy debate reflects this. But, from a behavior change viewpoint, weight management is a personal care problem with self-image consequences. Personal transformation can lead one to the clinic, or to the pharmacy, or to the beauty aisle. A consumer’s path will differ based on personal characteristics and circumstances that we need to know more about. Big pharmacy can leverage this in a big way. A digitally-based loyalty program, like Walgreens’ Balance Rewards or CVS Caremark’s ExtraCare, could be a hub that serves the personal transformation objectives of a customer over a lifetime, as well as the business objectives of the pharmacy, the clinic, and the health and beauty division. The hub would connect customers to an assortment of effective, evidence-based software (apps) that promotes the sort of behavior change needed to prevent or manage chronic diseases. These apps will add therapeutically valuable data to marketing insights. But first, software must become a legitimate therapy as worthy of prescription as a drug. This is the rub. This is “what is missing.” Software will emerge as an effective behavior change therapy, this is certain. But first apps that use the consumer as a proxy for advertising revenue must be displaced by software that generates measurable health outcomes. Pharmacy is in the best position to advance this and leverage the insights provided by the data to improve both software effectiveness and the merchandising effectiveness. If software is transformed from snake oil into therapy, the appropriate use of a loyalty program as a hub may be the way to merchandise digital health tools in retail pharmacy and make millions well. This is big and doable. We just need a big volunteer.

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Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday traffic, sales up vs. last year except across the Northeast

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — With the allure of deep discounts, doorbuster promotions and extended store hours, shoppers visited more stores and spent more money across the days of Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday than they did last year, ShopperTrak reported Saturday.

When compared to Thanksgiving and Black Friday last year, brick-and-mortar shopper traffic increased 2.8%, to as many as 1.1 billion store visits. Retail sales also increased by 2.3%, as shoppers spent an estimated total of $12.3 billion across the two days.

ShopperTrak estimates that total in-store shopper traffic and sales by region, compared to Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday in 2012, changed as follows:   

  • In the Midwest, regional traffic increased 2.3% and regional sales were up 3.3%;
  • The Northeast realized a 5% decline in traffic and a 7% drop in sales;
  • Retail traffic across the South was up 4.8%, and sales were up a similar 4.8%; and
  • In the West, traffic was up 6.9% and sales up 6%.

However, the numbers tell a very different story when viewing only data for Black Friday. When compared to Black Friday last year, brick-and-mortar shopper traffic fell 11.4%, and retail sales also decreased by 13.2%.

"The Black Friday shopping experience is changing with more shoppers choosing to go out on Thanksgiving Day," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. "Consumers increasingly research products online before entering stores. When they arrive, customers know exactly what they want to buy — retailers now need to make their experience a satisfying one."

For retailers, it’s not just about getting the customers to the stores — it’s about recognizing the value of each shopper who chooses to enter their store, Martin advises. Brick-and-mortar retailers must provide their customers a quality shopping experience that creates incentive to purchase immediately.

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Shoppers Drug Mart celebrates reopening of stores impacted by flood in Alberta

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALBERTA — Canadian pharmacy retailer Shoppers Drug Mart celebrated, along with politicians and community members, the reopening of Shoppers Drug Mart stores in major flood-impacted zones in Alberta.

Both events, held in High River and Mission, featured special guests, including municipal, provincial and federal leaders.

"Shoppers Drug Mart is an important part of the Town of High River, and its reopening is a call for celebration," said Rick Fraser, associate minister for recovery and reconstruction of High River and MLA for Calgary-South East. "This opening shows how far this community has come since the flood this summer, and it signifies another step in the town’s journey to recovery."

"Getting our businesses back up and running is a vital step for our communities in recovering from the June floods — the worst disaster in our province’s history," said Kyle Fawcett, associate minister for recovery and reconstruction of Southwest Alberta and MLA for Calgary. "I offer my congratulations to Shoppers Drug Mart on this milestone day."

Shoppers Drug Mart supported the relief efforts for those impacted by the flood in conjunction with the Canadian Red Cross, donating cash and emergency supplies valued in excess of $120,000. In addition, close to 28 million Shoppers Optimum points were donated by customers, which were, in turn, matched by the company.

"I am so proud of the way our Shoppers Drug Mart Associate-owners, their store teams and our customers mobilized to support those in need during and after the floods," said Domenic Pilla, president and CEO of Shoppers Drug Mart. "Whether it meant working in another store outside of their community or delivering prescriptions to patients who were immobile, their efforts truly impacted those in need."

Local Shoppers Drug Mart associate-owners and their store teams worked together to ensure residents had access to the prescription medications they needed during the difficult time. In fact, Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists provided close to 6,000 emergency prescriptions for those living in areas impacted by the flooding.

At the height of the floods, nine Shoppers Drug Mart stores were closed throughout Southern Alberta. The company was able to reopen all but two within a matter of days. Those employees who were displaced by the closures were offered work within other Shoppers Drug Mart associate-owned stores.

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