Inside This Issue - Opinion
Providing focused care, solutions an opportunity
February 17th, 2014
by Dave Wendland
Let’s begin by defining “need state” marketing. The former chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola, Mary Minnick, loved to talk about what she considers the 10 primal “need states” that consumers have, including “hunger and digestion,” “mental renewal” and “health and beauty.”
She suggested that creating drinks meeting each of these needs may mean inventing new categories. Imagine drinks, for example, that are fortified with vitamins or nutrients and provide women the same benefits as a facial scrub or cold cream.
Any good marketer would agree that identifying consumer desires and wants is the first step toward understanding the triggers around customer purchasing preferences. And becoming a “need state” analyst is probably time well spent. But a lot of work remains to be done to communicate this proposition to shoppers and manage store aisles and the pharmacy counter to truly become needs-focused.
Getting the message to consumers outside the physical storefront is a good first step. Advertising and out-of-store messaging passively relays to consumers the benefits of products and likely plants the seed in the minds of potential customers that a particular product is available. In other words, it builds awareness and generates an undercurrent of demand.
The actual purchase decision, however, is most often made in the retail setting at the time the shopper has identified a particular need. The need may be very specific, such as, “I need something to relieve the pain in my arm from yesterday’s tennis match.” Or it could be more subtle, “I need to offer my family healthier choices at home.” In both instances the purchase decision is driven by a need.
This column addresses health-focused need states and, in particular, the chronic condition arthritis. Arthritis is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that can affect people of all ages, races and genders.
Pharmacy can be positioned at the center of condition management for those suffering with arthritis. Here’s how.
The profession needs to become a resource to the patient, family and caregivers. That means providing information available from the Arthritis Foundation, getting involved with local support groups and/or forums within the community and conducting classroom learning sessions that can demonstrate the effects of arthritis.
That’s just the beginning. Pharmacies also need to connect the prescription needs of the patient to the front of the store. For patients coming in to treat their joint pain, pharmacies should create seamless navigation toward the front-of-store solutions within the normal work flow. Offering a “store tour” to point out the myriad products available and linking pharmacy and nonprescription needs around a specific loyalty program are other useful tools.
Another step pharmacies should consider is improving the shopability of the store aisles. That involves the use of directional signs to highlight products suited to patients with arthritis and the creation of helpful displays — end-caps and power wings — as “solution centers” for arthritis-stricken shoppers. Such efforts might include merchandising a special arthritis section that progresses from mild to severe (left to right).
And retailers must remain committed to involving the entire pharmacy staff. All associates at the location need to be involved in providing focused care and solutions. To help them do that, pharmacies can prepare “cheat sheets” for associates that offer answers to frequently asked questions and encourage them to tell their friends and neighbors about the new needs-state focus.
DAVE WENDLAND is vice president of Hamacher Resource Group Inc., a research, marketing and category management firm specializing in consumer health care at retail.