Inside This Issue - Opinion
Drug stores can benefit by meeting needs of active seniors
October 22nd, 2012
by Elizabeth Russell
The U.S. population over age 65 is soaring as the number of births did during the baby boom, and home health care products are not the only growing segment of drug store merchandise for today’s senior citizens.
Since they are some of the healthiest and most active seniors this country has ever seen, fewer are slowing down while the rest strive to maintain lifestyles they’ve earned and cultivated.
These seniors, the “weekend warriors” of their age group, stay active outside of work and throughout retirement. And they’re quite different from “healthy heroes” who manage a chronic disease.
Baby boomers are crossing the threshold of 65 at the staggering rate of one every 10 seconds since 2011, and they’re aiming to keep up with active children and grandchildren.
Even in good health, they can’t change the fact that their bodies are more prone to injury than ever and rehabilitation can be a long and physically demanding process.
While healthy heroes shop designated sections for diabetes care and other condition-based needs, weekend warriors are generally underserved, with no inclusive category for what they need in order to rehabilitate or stay active.
As anyone with an active lifestyle would believe, an injury or surgery should be as temporary a setback as possible. It’s important to weekend warriors to get healthy again, and they’re willing to work toward that goal.
Fitness equipment products such as Pivotal 5’s Rejuvenation line and Hygenic Corp.’s Thera-Band systems are designed for individuals who need to rehabilitate by strengthening, stretching and reducing pain.
While such home health care products as grab bars, shower stools and other aids for daily living provide temporary support for weekend warriors who are recovering from surgery or recuperating from an injury, this demographic does not want to depend on these products longer than necessary.
Products that will help recovering patients reduce their dependency on mobility aids, and improve their ability to exercise and stay fit, will provide long-term physical benefits that form part of their preventive care.
Since drug stores are already popular destinations for shoppers who need supplies to recuperate, capitalizing on this growing need can help both you and your shoppers.
Consider creating a wellness destination or “active living” section designed to help weekend warriors recover from injury, reduce pain and get back into their regular, active routine.
Warriors in recovery may need to fill a onetime prescription for pain relief or purchase a brace for support of weakened joints or muscles.
Merchandising destination items in one designated, well-thought-out space will enable rehabilitating warriors to find what they need in a timely, comfortable, and satisfying way — and should keep them coming back to the store.
For logical adjacencies, consider placing active living and rehabilitation products next to pain relief, elastics and sports treatments or vitamins/dietary supplements. Depending on availability in the store, consider dual placement for items whose existing categories may be located across the store from your new active living section.
You’ll still satisfy shoppers looking solely for one product while helping to increase the market basket of weekend warriors.
For example, if you place a three-foot active living section next to an elastics section while pain relief is located in another aisle, include a few pain relievers such as anti-inflammatories and aspirin with active living products to provide a complete solution for weekend warriors shopping for strengthening equipment or braces.
One of your most valuable assets is your employees. Offer them training that helps them become “active living coaches.” If you have staff members who have rehabilitated from injury, help them to communicate with customers and provide their own expert recommendations.
Other team members with friends or family members who have rehabilitated from injury or surgery can offer shoppers advice and helpful tips for product selection.
Creating an active living destination, educating employees and communicating with customers about their wants and needs will help you and your shoppers.
You will increase front-end sales as the boomers cross into the over-65 age group, while weekend warriors will find what they need to get back on their feet.
You can even highlight or sponsor local events of interest to active individuals; these could include exercise classes, which create a sense of community that’s vital to active, vibrant and healthy people across age groups and demographics.
ELIZABETH RUSSELL is an industry writer and researcher with Hamacher Resource Group Inc., a research, marketing and category management firm specializing in consumer health care at retail.