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How Drug Stores Can Meet the Demands of Health-Conscious Shoppers

How Drug Stores Can Meet the Demands of Health-Conscious Shoppers

American shopping habits are constantly shifting, and the drug store industry is not immune to these changes. Therefore, like other retailers, drug stores have to find ways to keep up with shopper demands. And although spend per trip in drug stores has increased, shoppers are making fewer trips – indicating a major shift in the way shoppers purchase their health and wellness products.

Drug stores are taking notice, and have begun implementing a variety of strategies to focus more on holistic health and wellness. These include in-store clinics, healthier snack options, and other tactics beyond the pharmacy counter. These changes have brought some improvements, but drug stores must find other solutions to engage health-conscious shoppers on a more consistent basis.

Who Are Health-Conscious Shoppers?

These shoppers fall into one or more key categories. Their health concerns vary, so it is important to market to more than one profile.

According to a recent Food Marketing Institute (FMI) report, half of American households have someone who is dieting or on another health-related program. These individuals are likely in the market for products and programs designed to aid weight-loss and other diet-related issues.

The same report also found that about one-third of American households have a family member affected by allergies, food sensitivities, and intolerances. These shoppers are most likely searching for natural and organic foods and products. Other notable trends among health-minded shoppers include the tendency to exercise on average three days per week, to eat healthier, at home, and to read product labels to make better choices.

These shoppers typically engage in other lifestyle changes, too. For example, they may take the stairs instead of the elevator, avoid or reduce their consumption of gluten and high-fructose corn syrup, participate in yoga classes, and more. This gives drug stores an opportunity to promote a variety of items that support healthy-living.

Health and Wellness Product Trends

Due to the increased interest in items related to healthy lifestyles, several product categories are seeing sales increase. According to Nielsen, “clean label” products are seeing some of the biggest increases, as the latest figures show sales grew 6.4% in 2016 – reaching $2.6 billion in annual sales. Driving the sales increase were salty snacks, nuts, coffee, candy and milk. Salty snacks, in particular, increased sales by $41 million – a 12.5% dollar increase.

And although organic products only represent 0.9% of drug store food sales, the category grew 30% within the retail segment in the same year – outpacing total growth (12%). Drug stores also saw lift in other categories, including products with claims focusing on specific dietary requirements (like low-glycemic claims). Beyond the food aisles, products claiming no artificial colors or flavors grew dollar sales by 10%, and products with cruelty-free claims almost doubled from the previous year (83%).

Drug stores can maximize their sales by focusing on the categories with the most potential. This indicates increasing demand among shoppers who are focused on improving and maintaining their health.

Key Focal Points

Become a Shopper’s Partner in Wellness

To gain the most benefit from the health and wellness trend, drug stores should position themselves as partners in helping shoppers maintain their healthy lifestyles. Instead of focusing primarily on products intended to treat illnesses and ailments, drug stores can also promote wellness and prevention. More shoppers are looking for products that help to prevent, rather than treat, diagnoses like obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. These individuals also look for specific labels and claims on products so that they can better target conditions of concern.

One retailer that has taken a wellness approach is Rite-Aid. With their Wellness Stores initiative, the retailer is remodeling locations to offer more health and wellness products, provide more clinical pharmacy services, and design even wider aisles with lower shelves for shoppers to easily navigate. Shoppers will find GNC nutritional supplements; organic and gluten-free foods and beverages; fitness and workout equipment and other products. They’ll also have access to private consultation rooms to speak with a pharmacist, as well as expanded sections for magazines and books about wellness.

Go Beyond the Basics

Shoppers typically turn to drug stores for their healthcare needs – including in-store clinics and medications – and for particular types of food. However, pharmacies will need to add other offerings to capitalize on the wellness trend, like adding organic, gluten-free, and otherwise “healthy” foods to the grocery and snack lineup. They may also consider updating the cosmetics aisle to include natural, organic, and other pro-health products and beauty regimens. Many people who are concerned about what they put into their bodies are also attentive to what they apply to their skin.

Stores also need to make sure that their vitamin and supplement selection is robust. Eight in 10 shoppers are using these products to be more proactive, so this is an opportunity to better engage them and increase sales. According to Nielsen, vitamins and supplements containing certain ingredients saw increased sales in 2017 compared to the previous year, including ginger (13%), turmeric (17%) and ginkgo (24%).

Put In-Demand Products on Display

It’s not enough to simply put products on the shelves and expect shoppers to find them. The products must also be promoted so it’s more visible that these are now available to them. Use end caps, standalone displays, posters, and other eye-catching visuals to draw attention to the particular product selection. To find even more success, be sure to arrange these displays in proximity to the products to make them easier to find.

Integrate Technology

Health-conscious shoppers are driving technology advancement, pushing retailers to get creative and develop ideas to meet their demands. This presents an opportunity for drug stores to use technology in ways that will attract and engage their target audience. In the example mentioned earlier, Rite-Aid’s Wellness Stores leverage technology to provide informational displays in the over-the-counter (OTC) department and to deliver personalized digital coupons through their wellness+ Bonus Cash Rewards program. Other drug stores can follow suit by incorporating technology within the aisles to educate shoppers and offering a digital app that makes shopping more convenient.

As in all industries, it’s important to keep up with trends to attract and retain shoppers and to stay ahead of the competition. For drug stores, this means catering to individuals who want products that will keep them healthy rather than reactively treat illnesses. By incorporating the strategies above, drug stores can tune into the demands of today’s health-conscious shopper and keep them engaged on a regular basis.