COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — As consumers with diabetes take more control over their care, food and pharmacy retailers are being challenged to come up with solutions to meet their needs, according to research from the Global Market Development Center (GMDC).
GMDC’s latest Health & Wellness Best Practices report, titled “Retail Partnering to Serve the Shopper with Diabetes,” spotlights two key trends at play for consumers living with diabetes.
For one, the prevalence of diabetes — over 29 million American now have type 1 or 2 diabetes — is demanding the attention of doctors on the diagnostic side and retailers on what GMDC calls the “consumer-patient” side. At the same time, the trend toward self-care and prevention is pushing retailers and their vendor partners to rethink merchandising and assortment strategies.
“Once the diabetic patient has been diagnosed at the clinical level, the next step is for them to head to drug and grocery stores to get the supplies they need to take care of themselves,” according to Patrick Spear, president and chief executive officer of GMDC. “They’ve now become the consumer-patient and have to rely on retailers to help them find products, understand how to use them and even learn what their insurance will cover.”
As an example, GMDC cited the collaboration between Wakefern Food Corp.’s ShopRite supermarkets and Johnson & Johnson. The companies developed a store-within-a-store concept with new product positioning and immersive displays that provide more convenience and better serve the needs of consumers with diabetes.
Making its debut at a ShopRite store in Flemington, N.J., last year as part of the chain’s “Live Right” initiative, the Diabetes Center featured more than 100 items for disease prevention and management. The display, too, is situated next to the pharmacy, providing customers with ready access to pharmacists to answer questions about medication, meters, testing devices and other diabetes care-related products. Also available is an in-store dietitian to counsel diabetes patients on making better food choices to help them control their condition.
“We started the journey with J&J with the question, ‘How do we create an environment that says to the patient faced with this disease, “We care about you?’ ” Chris Skyers, vice president of health and beauty care at Wakefern, said in a statement. “When you think about what the diabetes patient has to contend with, creating an inviting setting is important, and it’s one of the greatest challenges.”
People with diabetes account for $176 billion annually in direct medical costs, and on average they spend $1,000 to $2,500 a year on supplies alone, including test strips, syringes and sterile dressings. That means they spend almost five times more than the average customer in drug and grocery categories, GMDC noted.
“This isn’t just about driving product sales but about creating engagement with the patient/customer,” stated Chris Jobes, director of health and wellness for Johnson & Johnson Consumer. “This is all about changing behavior, and the best way to change behavior is with a human touch, developing a relationship.”