HEALTH

Health and wellness a new calling card for C-stores

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Move over supermarkets and retail pharmacy, a convenience center near you will soon be enticing their shoppers with plenty of health and wellness fanfare in an effort to reach those shoppers who typically spend more than average, but don't think they can find healthier-for-you options in the same place that they buy their cup of joe. 
 
A new Hudson Institute report released Thursday suggests that convenience stores are poised to capitalize on the growing trend of consumers seeking healthy, more convenient products. 
 
To grow sales, the 152,794 convenience store operators in the United States should look beyond simply meeting the needs of their traditional customers and embrace the growing demand for more better-for-you items that can be conveniently purchased, according to the report, authored by Hank Cardello, senior fellow and director of the Hudson Institute's Obesity Solutions Initiative, and Steve French, managing partner and co-owner of the Natural Marketing Institute.
 
Convenience retailers should place a focus on two primary consumer segments to grow sales: continuing to serve their traditional core consumer segment of "Eat, Drink & Be Merrys" and the growing segment characterized as "Fence Sitters," who represent 38% of convenience store shoppers and typically spend more, yet are often unsure where they can find convenient, better-for-you options. Overall, 34% of Fence Sitters say there are "no convenient locations nearby" to purchase healthy foods.
 
In particular, easy-to-access prepared foods present an opportunity for convenience stores with foodservice operations to capitalize on this customer's desire to eat healthier more often. Foodservice sales are 19% of the industry's $213.5 billion in in-store sales.
 
"Convenience stores have an opportunity to bridge this gap and own convenient foodservice — especially breakfast — when nutrition is considered most important and Fence Sitters are currently eating healthier options during this meal occasion in particular," according to the report.
 
There also is considerable opportunity to grow sales through education — both by communicating the availability of better-for-you products and by highlighting taste and quick and easy preparation for on-the-go consumption.
 
"By focusing on products and messaging that meet the need for healthier products—on-the-go, breakfast and kid-targeted convenience —convenience stores can drive significant, new growth in this emerging category," the report concluded.
 
The report was commissioned by the National Association of Convenience Stores.
 
 
 
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HEALTH

Wahl launches wearable massage device

BY Michael Johnsen

STERLING, Ill. — Wahl on Wednesday introduced the new Wahl Pulsing Massage Patch. According to Wahl, it's the first and only wearable massage device that adheres to the body and uses massaging pulses to ease pain.
 
“There's a growing demand for natural, safe and convenient pain relief options,” Jenny McLaughlin, product manager for Wahl Therapeutic Massagers, said. “Whether your pain is chronic or once in a while, the wearable design of our new massaging patch is the perfect solution for people looking to feel like themselves again – quickly and easily.”
 
The lightweight and flexible patch design has reusable adhesive gel pads that conform to the body, while four vibrating motors massage separate areas. These massaging pulses increase blood circulation to relieve tension and soreness while promoting the healing of sore muscles. Great for lower and upper back pain, the patch covers a large surface area but can also be used for pinpointed problem areas.
 
The patch also offers customizable pain relief as the motors can be programmed at six different intensity levels ranging from gentle to intense, and six varying pulsing sequences offer different patterns of massage.
 
The Wahl Pulsing Massage Patch has a suggested retail price of $34.99, and is currently available at Walgreens, the company reported. 
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J.D. Power ranks top blood glucose meters

BY Michael Johnsen

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Two-thirds of all diabetes patients who report being satisfied with their blood glucose meter recommend that meter to a friend, according to the J.D. Power's 2015 U.S. Blood Glucose Meter Satisfaction study, released Thursday.
 
Knowing which meter is delivering on that patient satisfaction is important, as a growing number of diabetes patients are buying their meters and strips within the retail pharmacy setting, as opposed to their doctor's offices, J.D. Power reported. The most common location to obtain a meter continues to shift toward chain drug stores (22% in 2015 vs. 16% in 2013) and mass merchandisers (16% in 2015 vs. 12% in 2013), and away from doctor’s offices (19% in 2015 vs. 24% in 2013). 
 
The J.D. Power survey measured customer satisfaction with blood glucose meters based on six factors (in order of importance): performance (26%); ease of use (24%); design (20%); features (19%); cost of test strips (6%); and training (5%). Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale. 
 
Roche Diagnostics ranks highest in satisfaction with a score of 839, up 16 points from 2014, performing particularly well in the six satisfaction factors measured by J.D. Power. Abbott Laboratories (827) ranks second. No other brand ranks above industry average, J.D. Power reported.
 
Training materials that are accessible and easy to understand contribute to an overall increase in satisfaction, and satisfaction is significantly higher when patients understand how to use their meter. Satisfaction with training is 823, up a significant 14 points from 2014 and 25 points from 2013. When users receive written training materials, overall satisfaction is 20 points higher than the industry average; 19 points higher when users receive online information; and 16 points higher when users view a demonstration video online. 
 
In contrast, when users do not receive any training materials, satisfaction declines by 17 points. Ensuring that users completely understand the written training materials is a key performance indicator, providing an 88-point lift in overall satisfaction when it is met.
 
While written materials remain the most common training support provided, just 38% of meter users receive written materials, down from 43% in 2014. However, the use of training information online has increased to 16% from 11% year over year, and the use of demo videos online has increased to 14% from 9%.  
 
“In an era of instant information where consumers readily search the Internet for information or ‘how-to’ videos on healthcare topics of interest, blood glucose meter training is no exception,” Rick Johnson, director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power, said. “Rather than having consumers view a random YouTube video about meter usage, blood glucose meter manufacturers need to meet the needs of their customers for easier access to information. This can be accomplished by providing training materials—such as instructional videos—that are easy to access, watch and understand, regardless of whether customers are doing so from home or using a mobile device on the go.” 
 
According to Johnson, manufacturers need to ensure users understand any changes to a new model and clearly show where users can view instructional videos. Knowing how to use the meter builds confidence in the accuracy of the test results, ultimately leading to satisfaction and loyalty.
 
Some of the other key findings include: 
 
  • Satisfaction with meter features continues to increase, up by 21 points from 2013 to 805 this year, with the most often used feature being the large print on display screen option. When meter users regularly use the large print option, overall satisfaction increases by 55 points. Nearly half (47%) of users indicate they regularly use this feature, and 21% say it is the most important feature on their meter;
  • Test strips are critically important to the customer experience. Satisfaction with the cost of test strips factor improves significantly to 767, which is an improvement of 26 points from 2014. Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) users indicate they have no limit on the number of strips that will be reimbursed or paid for each month. Users want them to be easy to use, affordable and interchangeable; and
  • Among customers using a free meter, satisfaction increases to 847 when they have a choice of four or more meters, compared with 818 when they have no choices. More than two-thirds (68%) of meter users obtain their meter free of charge.
The 2015 U.S. Blood Glucose Meter Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 2,026 adults or parents of children with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The study was fielded from July 27, 2015, through Aug. 7, 2015. Overall satisfaction with blood glucose meters has increased to 826 this year, up 3 points from 2014.
 
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