Editor’s note: Sears’ troubles mark end of an era
Sears, once the nation’s largest retailer, filed for bankruptcy in mid-October.
It was a long time coming. Sears has been the retail version of a dead man walking for the better part of a generation, and even its much-questioned purchase of the equally struggling Kmart chain more than a decade ago did little to change the perception that this was a big chain in big trouble.
The gurus who run this chain said they will keep it going with a loan or two from some high-risk investors, though they plan to close about 142 stores later this year. This is just corporate-speak that really means they have no clue what to do with the remaining stores, and they will probably close these 500 or so units in the near future too.
So, for all intents and purposes, Sears is dead, and it died because its corporate leadership — over the last 20-to-25 years and maybe longer — failed to realize that consumer-shopping behavior was quickly changing and they needed to change with it or fail. Even the decision to close the famous Sears catalog in 1993 now seems like a mistake, given the fact that a digital version of it could probably have been successful nowadays.
Instead of reading the consumer tea leaves, Sears did its best to dismantle its retail assets, selling off many of its most popular brands and doing little to keep up with changing fashion trends that could have kept the company at the forefront of the industry. Meanwhile, the company seemed to pay a great deal of attention to its real estate portfolio, which may have made its top executives rich, but did nothing for its retail operation.
Can other retailers benefit from Sears’ decline? Unlike the Toys “R” Us liquidation a few months ago, there is not much to go after if Sears completely closes down. Consumers got the message years ago that this was not a chain that carried the most sought-after merchandise, and they stayed away in growing numbers. Suppliers did not want to help either, fearful that when a bankruptcy filing did take place, they would be left holding the bag.
In the end, Sears will join the growing list of retailers that failed. The problem here might be that no one really cared anymore.
Denture care brands use TV to get a grip on consumers
I brush my teeth twice a day. I floss too. I also go for regular check-ups with my dentist. This is all in an effort to maintain good dental care — and keep my teeth in top condition. But, even with preventive care, our teeth and gums deteriorate with age.
Between an aging Baby Boomer generation base of 79 million in the United States and greater life expectancy, it is no surprise that Market Research Future predicts that the need for dental prosthetics will increase exponentially over the next few years. What are P&G’s Fixodent, GSK Consumer Healthcare’s Polident/Poligrip, Prestige Brand’s Efferdent, and Combe’s Sea-Guard doing to ensure that they are secure in the minds of consumers?
According to Alphonso TV data, Fixodent unquestionably took the largest bite of the denture care brands’ television spend in October. The adhesive spent $1.2 million against one piece of creative—a commercial for its Ultra Max Hold product that featured the brand’s catchy slogan: “Fixodent and forget it!” Networks such as TLC, Investigation Discovery, TV Land, and Lifetime Movies were included in the buy, with shows that ranged from “My 600-Lb. Life,” and “Unsolved Mysteries” to reruns of “M*A*S*H” and “A Haunting” garnering the most airings.
GSK Consumer Healthcare spent a little less than half that amount on TV advertising for its Polident and Poligrip line of products, with the lion’s share of budget going to National Geographic Wild and Fox Business. True crime was similarly in the show mix, this time with “Forensic Files” airing, the majority of the brand’s series of ads for its adhesive and cleaning solutions. The reward for spending on murder and mayhem? Over-indexing on reach to the 50-plus viewer.
SeaBond took another tact to get to the older audience, with a major part of its October TV investment of $226K being made on GSN and the game show “Family Feud.” Pick an answer? 50-plus!
In sharp contrast, Efferdent just purchased nearly $73K for television advertising in October, with daytime TV on CBS and the CW landing the biggest piece of the pie.
Except for P&G’s Fixodent, it is clear that TV dollars are low among denture care brands. But, let me give denture adhesive and cleaner marketers something to chew on: TV is a proven vehicle for reaching older audiences, and as the need for dentures increase, so will the fight for market share — and TV ad time — that reaches the target consumer.
TS Kelly is senior vice president of research for Alphonso, a TV data company that provides real-time TV campaign analytics, one-to-one TV ad retargeting, and closed-loop attribution for brands and agencies. In his role at Alphonso, Kelly deep dives into television data and insights, giving clients guidance on how to optimize their TV spend.
Pharmacist-administered immunization opportunities are expanding
As the National Community Pharmacists Association Annual Convention concluded recently, I headed home to Richmond for a few days of R&R, Hurricane Michael cleanup and, yes, a couple of scheduled physician appointments. Each visit required the requisite paperwork to ensure that the information in my patient record was complete and current. One of the questions — “Have you received your flu shot this year?” — caused me to reflect on my days as an immunizing pharmacist and the impact pharmacists have had on immunization rates.
Pharmacists have been involved with vaccines since the 1800s, but only for the past 20 years have they been actively involved in the routine immunization of patients. As the emphasis on preventive care continues to grow, many states are expanding the role of pharmacists as experts in immunizations. Currently, immunization is the No. 1 patient care service offered by community pharmacy, highlighting the important role pharmacists play in public health. According to the 2018 NCPA Digest, 73% of community pharmacies offer immunization services. If you subscribe to the glass-half-empty mentality, only 73% of independent community pharmacies offer immunizations.
Life-saving vaccines have a profound impact on the entire nation. Today, almost everyone can receive immunizations against 17 once-common and potentially deadly infectious diseases in the United States. However, many patients still fall through the cracks because providers fail to ask about such things as travel plans, school health needs or if they have received immunizations for high-risk environments. Although we have come a long way, nearly eradicating so many vaccine- preventable illnesses, we still have some work to do on getting our current immunization trends and populations up to date. For example, on one end of the spectrum, the percentage of patients across every age group has improved for influenza coverage. Conversely, the need for immunization improvement remains in the area of pneumococcal disease, which is lingering below Healthy People 2020 targets.
Offering immunizations provides opportunities for pharmacies far beyond the revenue that is generated from this service. Pharmacy-based immunization services help build a relationship based on trust between the patient and the pharmacist, leading the patient to rely more and more on the pharmacist for a wide array of such services as counseling, OTC recommendations, prescription delivery, health screenings, medication therapy management services and traditional prescription dispensing. Immunizations go a long way toward branding the pharmacy as a destination for health and wellness, an important differentiator in today’s competitive marketplace.
Finally, immunizations are a core service set for pharmacies participating in such enhanced services networks as CPESN. These pharmacies are required to screen patients for ACIP-recommended immunizations, educate patients about needed immunizations, or refer to other healthcare providers. In today’s healthcare environment, with the focus on collaborative, team-based care, it is critical that we try to eliminate any remaining and, in some cases, perceived barriers — i.e., physician opposition — to providing this important public health service.
As America’s most accessible healthcare providers, pharmacists are up to the challenge. Let’s get to work.
John Beckner is senior director of strategic initiatives for the National Community Pharmacists Association.