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NACDS highlights role of pharmacist-provided vaccines in lead-up to congressional forum

BY Antoinette Alexander

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Emphasizing the role of pharmacists in providing vaccine services for patients, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores submitted a written statement in lead-up to a forum hosted by U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., on Thursday at the Hammer Institutes for Health Sciences.

The forum, titled “The 21st Century Cures Roundtable – Vaccine Focus,” highlighted the importance of vaccinations in the interest of public health. Spearheaded by House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and committee member Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., the 21st Century Cures Initiative is designed to help accelerate the discovery, development and delivery process of new drug treatments for patients.

In addition to Rep. Ellmers, Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, who both serve on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, representatives from federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services participated in the panel discussion. Representatives from pharmaceutical companies also participated in the panel.

“Highly educated to provide patient care services, pharmacists are well suited to help increase vaccination rates and further reduce the incidence of vaccine preventable diseases,” NACDS said in its statement.

NACDS also highlighted the healthcare savings that pharmacist-provided vaccines yield for patients.

“As demonstrated through the TRICARE program, significant savings were achieved by the Department of Defense when policies were implemented to allow TRICARE beneficiaries to obtain flu and pneumococcal vaccines from retail pharmacies,” NACDS stated.

It was estimated that for the first six months that beneficiaries could obtain their vaccinations from pharmacists, 18,361 vaccines for H1N1, flu and pneumococcal were administered at a cost of nearly $300,000. NACDS noted that had those vaccines been administered under the medical benefit, the cost to TRICARE would have been $1.8M. Because of these savings, the Department of Defense opted to expand coverage of the portfolio of vaccines that TRICARE beneficiaries may obtain from community pharmacies to include all CDC-recommended vaccines.

In its statement, NACDS also encouraged policymakers to identify opportunities to further utilize pharmacists to reach under-vaccinated populations, especially in states where restrictive state laws limit the vaccine services that pharmacists can provide.

“As the face of neighborhood health care, community pharmacies and pharmacists provide convenient, accessible and cost-effective health services, including immunizations, to their local communities,” NACDS said in its statement.
 

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Abbott to support six renowned marathons as World Marathon Majors’ title sponsor

BY Michael Johnsen

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. — Abbott and the World Marathon Majors on Friday announced a new partnership with Abbott becoming the race series' first-ever title sponsor. The series — comprising six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world: Tokyo, Boston, Virgin Money London, BMW BERLIN, Bank of America Chicago and TCS New York City Marathon — will be renamed the Abbott World Marathon Majors starting in 2015.
 
Through the new global partnership, Abbott aims to create opportunities for the company to demonstrate and bring to life its core mission of helping people unlock all that life has to offer through the power of health. This mission will be expressed through the company's new brand line — "Life. To the Fullest." — as part of its communications and branding efforts around each of the races.
 
"Abbott has always been about delivering the enabling power of health so that people — in all places, aspects and stages of life — can achieve more and live not just longer but better," said Paul Magill, SVP and chief marketing officer, Abbott. "Whether you're stepping out to walk or run your first mile or training to complete a marathon, good health is the starting point for accomplishing your best. This partnership is an important building block for us as we build our corporate identity around the world."
 
 
"As the global leader in elite and mass participation marathons, the World Marathon Majors shows how people — wherever they're from in the world — are capable of doing amazing things when they're at their healthiest," added Carey Pinkowski, Bank of America Chicago Marathon executive race director. "As a company that helps people around the globe achieve their goals through better health, Abbott is a natural fit as the first-ever title sponsor of the World Marathon Majors."
 
"BMW BERLIN-MARATHON runners are unified in the sacrifices they've made just to get to the start line and their commitment to being the best they can be through good health," said BMW BERLIN-MARATHON race director, Mark Milde. "So we're excited to welcome Abbott, a company whose mission is to help people achieve their goals through better health, to the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON in 2015 as the title sponsor of the World Marathon Majors."
 
Abbott's race activation will include a pre-race expo presence; Abbott employee engagement such as dedicated on-course cheer zones; and event and on-course signage. 
 
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Accenture predicts holiday cheer for retailers: 1-in-4 consumers plan to spend more this year

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Accenture on Thursday released its annual holiday shopping survey, finding that consumers are expressing increased optimism about their personal finances this year. One-in-four U.S. consumers plan to spend more on holiday shopping this year compared to 20% in 2013, and spending on holiday gifts is expected to average $718. 
 
The survey also found consumer enthusiasm for Black Friday shopping has reached its highest level in eight years. Two-thirds of respondents (66%) said they are likely to shop on Black Friday, compared to 55% who planned to do so in 2013 and 44% who said the same back in 2007. In addition, 37% plan to shop online during that period using a desktop, mobile device or tablet, which is up from 32% in 2013. Plans to shop on Thanksgiving Day and evening rose to 45% from 38% in 2013. Of those consumers planning to shop on the holiday, 47% said that they will be shopping in a physical store between 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and 5 a.m. on Black Friday.
 
The Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey found that of those consumers planning to spend more this year, 28% said they have more discretionary income and 22% noted that they have greater job security, up from 15% in 2013. Additionally, consumers are planning to allocate a greater share of wallet to holiday shopping than in previous years. For example, of those planning to spend more this year, 47% plan to spend $250 or more compared to 40% in 2013. Of the 19% of consumers who plan to spend less this year, 41% said they will reduce the amount they spend by less than $100.
 
Even though they intend to spend more, holiday shoppers remain keenly focused on discounts and sales. Nearly all respondents (96% versus 94% in 2013) said that discounts will be important to their purchasing decisions, and more than one in four (29%) said that it would take a discount of 50% or more to persuade them to make a purchase.
 
Retailers could also see a shift in sales in the post-holiday season this year, as more than half (57%) of consumers plan to purchase gift cards (the top item on consumers’ shopping lists) this year and 17% will use gift cards to do their holiday shopping, up from 10% in 2013. For example, a gift card may prompt additional sales when the card is redeemed since it is likely that the recipient will spend extra money to buy an item of greater value, versus leaving a balance on the card.  Moreover, by offering an incentive for holiday gift card buyers to make additional purchases or to enroll in their loyalty card program, retailers might be able to convert holiday enthusiasm into a brand relationship that extends throughout the year. 
 
“The holiday shopping season is one of the most competitive times of the year for retailers, but they also have a big opportunity to drive sales and acquire new customers,” said Dave Richards, global managing director, Accenture’s Retail practice. “The majority of retailers look for ways to extend the holiday season as late as possible, but can face challenges in delivering a physical product in time. Personalized promotions and pushing gift cards are a good way for retailers to continue momentum and stretch this success into the post-holiday season.”
 
When asked how likely they would be to share more of their personal information, such as contact details and preferences, in order for retailers to be able to provide them with personalized and customized offers during the holidays, one-third (33%) of consumers said that they would be likely to do so.
 
As consumers continue to make greater use of laptops, smartphones and tablets, as well as social media, for  online shopping, these advanced technologies will play a more prominent role in holiday shopping this year. More than half of consumers surveyed (63%) indicated that they will use a laptop or home computer to make purchases or assist in their holiday shopping this season (up 16 percentage points from last year), and 24% plan to use a smartphone, up from 18% last year. In addition, 13% of respondents said that they intend to use social networking websites to assist them in their holiday shopping, up from 11% in 2013 and 8% from 2012.
 
Furthermore, more than one-third of shoppers (36%) said that they would shop this year using a mobile phone, smartphone or tablet in-store in order to compare prices, and 21% said that they believe that the technology to do that has improved significantly. Additionally, half of survey respondents said that they would be willing to try, would definitely use or are using a service that would enable them to pay using their mobile phone at checkout. At the same time, 44% of the survey respondents said that an easy-to-use website would make them more likely to buy holiday gifts online.
 
 
When doing their in-store shopping this holiday season, many consumers say that they would be willing to use new digital tools. As many as 71% of respondents said that they are using, would definitely use or are willing to try out a mobile tool that scans products as they’re placed in a shopping cart and keeps a running tab of the total amount spent. Additionally, 76% said that they would definitely use or would be willing to try mobile services that provide them with real-time promotions and offers as they shopped in-store, if those services were offered.
 
“Mobility is having a dramatic impact on retail shopping as customers are walking into retail stores with their own smartphones and tablets, which provide them with complete product and pricing transparency,” said Richards. “With over one-third of survey respondents saying they would shop this holiday season using a mobile device in-store in order to compare prices, it is critical for retailers to make it seamless for consumers to trade on mobile applications by incorporating social media and mobile technologies into their stores and multichannel environments. It is more important than ever that retailers switch from a mass-marketing approach to promotions and embrace mobile and other digital tools to deliver more targeted one-to-one offers.”
 
The survey revealed that 49% of consumers had already started, or planned to start, the majority of their shopping in September, well in advance of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Nearly one-fifth of survey respondents (19%) said they had already spent between $100 and $500 on holiday gift purchases by mid-September of this year. One contributing factor could be that over the past three years, the number of consumers who believe the best discounts of the season can be found before Thanksgiving and Black Friday has been rising steadily — to 18% in 2014, compared to 14% in 2013 and 12% in 2012.
 
The results of the survey further showed that despite some consumers seeing an increase in discretionary income,  rising prices — specifically for food, gas and home energy bills — remain a concern among some consumers and will affect some spending this holiday season. The survey results do indicate, however, that many consumers are planning ahead to pay for their holiday shopping: 57% of respondents say they will pay for their holiday purchases with cash they have put aside, a small increase from 52% last year.
 
This holiday season, a growing number of consumers (71%) plan to participate in “webrooming” — browsing online and then going into a store to make their purchase. While researching online offers consumers many conveniences, checking online to determine if a product is in stock was selected by respondents as their top reason for webrooming (48%, up from 42% in 2013), followed by being able to touch and feel a product before purchase (46%) and the desire to avoid shipping costs (45%). At the same time, more shoppers (68%) say they are likely to participate in “showrooming” — going into a physical store to see a product and then searching online for a better price and making their purchase online, which is up from 63% in 2013.
 
Driving consumers to a store through seamless, omnichannel offerings could lead to more sales, according to the survey results. In fact, 57% of respondents said that they would likely buy items that were not part of their original purchase when they go into a store to pick up merchandise they purchased online and had shipped to the store or use an in-store pick up option.
 
Shipping issues during Christmas week last year have raised concerns among consumers this year. Nearly half of the survey respondents (49%) are concerned about receiving their deliveries from online purchases on time this year, and of those, nearly one out of five (19%) are “very” concerned.
 
“Most retailers are making strides in the order management and fulfillment space, but the concept of flexible fulfillment is not yet mature,” said Richards. “In order for retailers to win over today’s multichannel shoppers, they need to offer personalized interactions and a consistent multichannel experience, including flexible fulfillment options. The critical next step for retailers is to figure out how to manage their inventory holistically, and the challenge lies in operating at scale across all channels.”
 
Among the additional trends highlighted by the survey:
 
  • Discount retailers continue to be the top destination for shoppers this holiday season (71%);
  • 58% of respondents said they will shop at online-only retailers, compared to 50% in 2013 and 44% in 2012;
  • Nearly half (47%) of consumers plan to buy gifts at department stores this year, up 12 percentage points from 2013;
  • Gift cards (57%) apparel (56%) and toys (42%) top consumers’ holiday shopping lists this year;
  • In the electronics category, 13% of respondents plan to buy wearable technology such as fitness bands, 24% plan to buy home electronics such as a TV or Blu-ray player, 14% plan to buy smartphones and 13% plan to buy tablets;
  • 54% of respondents plan to spend between $11 and $50 on a gift card. Gift cards for restaurants, discount retailers and prepaid, multiuse cards are the most popular;
  • Overall this holiday season, more than half (51%) of shoppers plan to spend 50% or more of their total holiday gift dollars online;
  • Free shipping is still the number-one incentive for buying holiday gifts online (69%), followed by finding products that are discounted compared to in-store prices (51%) and avoiding the crowds and long check-out lines (50%);
  • If a retailer sells products both online and in physical stores, consumers prefer to shop online in order to avoid the crowds and to shop around for the best deals. They prefer a physical store in order to touch and feel a product before they buy it;
  • Competitor price-matching on the spot (40%), loyalty programs for exclusive deals (35%) and purchasing online with in-store delivery/pickup (32%) are the top holiday programs and benefits offered by retailers that consumers plan to use, while 19% also plan to take advantage of loyalty programs;
  • Of the 61% of consumers planning to shop in a physical store on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, the majority (56%) are planning to go to three or more stores;
  • 38% of shoppers would shop in-store on Black Friday to take advantage of doorbuster deals;
  • Nearly half (49 percent) say they believe that the best deals of the season are on Thanksgiving, Black Friday or Cyber Monday; and
  • Fewer shoppers than last year (32%, down from 41% in 2013) said that interfering with family time was a reason to not shop in a physical store on Thanksgiving.
 
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