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HEALTH

DME sales trending up

BY Michael Johnsen

With the oldest of the baby boomers celebrating birthday No. 71 in 2017, sales of durable medical equipment and the kind of home health products that help transition patient care from hospital settings to the home in the retail setting have only one direction to go. And that’s up.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

The overall expenditure on durable medical equipment, or DME, including items not available through retail like bed accessories, in 2017 is projected to reach $50.6 billion with a compound annual growth rate of 4.7% through 2020, according to Harris Williams & Co.

That kind of positive momentum already is being realized at retail, noted Steve Light, VP consumer health at Cardinal Health. “Since the launch of Hospital Quality at Home [in 2015], we’ve seen a positive trend in consumption,” he told Drug Store News, regarding home health product selection for the 46% of family caregivers who provide complex chronic care following a hospitalization.

Two of the major retail players in home health products have made significant acquisitions in the past year to round out their overall product portfolios. Drive DeVilbiss in October acquired the durable medical equipment brands in Canada from AMG Medical that includes AquaSense, Airgo, Hugo and Profilio. The company also launched its Inspired by Drive product portfolio.

Similarly, Compass Health, which supplies such brands as Carex, AccuRelief, Apex, Bed Buddy and TheraMed, last year acquired the kinesiology tape StrengthTape from Endevr and the value-oriented ProBasics brand from Invacare.

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HEALTH

Aromatherapy makes plenty of ‘scents’ for retailers

BY Michael Johnsen

For those retailers bold enough to sniff out a fresh opportunity, at least as far as the mass merchant space is concerned, aromatherapy realized some rosy sales gains in 2016. Citing Nielsen data, Piping Rock reported the aromatherapy opportunity in mass is racing along at an annual growth trajectory of 121%, reaching $44 million for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 31, 2016 across all outlets combined.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

“This segment is growing 15 times faster than the next growing [natural] segment,” noted Steve Holzbach, Piping Rock senior category development manager. And that blockbuster growth is not coming at the expense of any other category, he added. It’s all incremental — and another reason for consumers to shop the VMS aisle.

“When we talk to consumers, they’re looking for more than just ‘physical’ health and wellness,” Derek Bowen, chief marketing officer and general manager, Nature’s Bounty, told Drug Store News. It’s expanded into the mental and spiritual arena that used to play very well in the specialty setting or online, but has now migrated to mass outlets, which is what makes an adjacency to VMS ideal. “It’s not just people looking for a fragrance experience. It’s people [who] are looking to go deeper into that emotional well-being.”

Part of the appeal to this category is the repeat business that’s generated after initial trial. Consumers first buying into the category invest in the scent diffuser, after which it’s a matter of buying refill modules to repeat that wellness experience. “The category is growing,” Bowen said. “It has a nice trajectory in terms of velocity.” According to Bowen, the two primary rooms within the house where aromatherapy is practiced are the bathroom and the bedroom, which makes for optimal crossover opportunities.

The majority of shoppers (roughly 80%) are female, Holzbach said. And the category indexes high among Hispanic (104) and African-American (110) shoppers, according to Piping Rock research.

Aromatherapy also may appeal to the baby boomer shopper, Bowen added. “Remember, baby boomers are still the heaviest purchasers of mass fragrances in drug and mass. It’s a very pro-fragrance consumer segment.”

Nature’s Bounty recently introduced a new line of aromatherapy essential oils under the Nature’s Origin banner. The line includes an essential oils kit designed to attract new shoppers, as well as a “Travel with Scents” line available as an easy-to-carry inhaler. There also are a number of different delivery formats being introduced as part of the Nature’s Origin line, including roll-on applicators.

Piping Rock also continues to innovate within the category, and in February infused its aromatherapy line with three new sensory products — a body cream, a body oil and a bubble bath. “These new products offer a therapeutic approach to beauty for a holistic approach to aromatherapy,” said Kimberly Vigliante, SVP sales and marketing at Piping Rock. Coupled with the soothing scent of Piping Rock’s most popular essential oil — lavender — the products add a gifting opportunity to the health-and-wellness aisles.

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‘Natural’ and ‘alternative’ key words when it comes to homeopathy

BY Michael Johnsen

Consumers buying homeopathic remedies base those decisions on two factors: products that are safe and efficacious. The products have to work, or they wouldn’t earn the repeat purchases that are helping to drive sales.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

“Millennial moms are looking for ‘safe’ [and] ‘effective,’” said Les Hamilton, president of Hyland’s. But it’s more than that, he added, because descriptors like ‘natural’ and ‘alternative’ also are resonating with today’s young moms. “She’s looking for raw fruits and vegetables [and] BPA-free containers,” he said. “They’re living this natural lifestyle that transcends the [medicines] they buy. It’s inside and outside their bodies, as well as what’s around them. It’s the whole lifestyle of green living.”

In addition, those shoppers are looking to capitalize on the convenience of mass outlets, which means they’re looking for these solutions in their local retail pharmacies. Sales of herbal and homeopathic products totaled more than $1.4 billion and were up 19.6% across conventional multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ended July 10, 2016, according to SPINS.

Currently, conventional outlets represent the sharpest growth rates for homeopathy products. While homeopathy sales were similarly up in both the specialty gourmet and natural channels, the sales volume and velocity are considerably smaller both in terms of dollar sales and growth rates. In that period, herbal and homeopathic remedies generated $319.8 million in natural channels, up 8.1%, and $11.6 million in gourmet outlets, up 5.9%.

Value-oriented packaging is another key differentiator that’s driving business, Hamilton said. Hyland’s is expanding its value-pack offering to Hyland’s Baby Daytime/Nighttime Tiny Cold Tablets, based on its recent success with Hyland’s 4Kids Cold ‘n Cough Day & Night Value Pack that was introduced this season.

That gravitation toward “natural” and “alternative” may make for new merchandising opportunities. For example, Nelson Bach is currently working on building a stress-relief destination within mass OTC sets, synergistically adjacent to sleep in key retailers. “We’re working on customized solutions with individual retailers to fit the right SKUs to their shopper mix [and] merchandising sets,” John Ende, president and general manager at Nelson Bach USA, told Drug Store News. The process is dovetailing nicely with retailer initiatives to cluster stores by demographics, Ende added, as homeopathic remedies index higher among higher-income and higher-education households.

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