The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) has teamed up with deep discount retail giant Dollar General to help shoppers answer a persistent question in the aisles: Which over-the-counter medicine should I pick?
The CHPA Educational Foundation on Monday unveiled an interactive shelf tag pilot at Dollar General’s nearly 19,000 stores in 47 states in which customers can receive assistance in deciding which OTC product to choose at the point of purchase. Partnering with CHPA and Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General on the initiative are association members Haleon (maker of Advil), Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (maker of Tylenol) and Perrigo (maker of DG Health acetaminophen and ibuprofen products).
Under the pilot, which runs until Dec. 31, Vestcom’s data-integrated shelfAdz tags with QR code deep-link technology will be affixed to shelves in the OTC pain management aisles in Dollar General stores. The tags enable shoppers to use their smartphone to scan a QR code and be directed to the KnowYourOTCs.org website. After answering a series of brief questions to determine individual risk factors, shoppers will receive a personalized report summary to help them select the OTC pain reliever that’s right for them. The online OTC Pain Relief Interactive Quiz is available in English and Spanish.
“As people grow more proactive about their health and well-being, manufacturers and retailers have a critical window of opportunity to address consumers’ needs by bridging health literacy gaps in a way that enables safe use and better self-care,” according to Anita Brikman, executive director of the CHPA Educational Foundation.
Retailers across the food, drug and mass channel have for years been trying to find ways to aid shoppers in the OTC medicine aisles as they scan the myriad of products on shelves to determine which item would be their best choice.
The growth in the number of multifunction, multisymptom, time-sensitive (a.m./p.m.), private-label and other products, as well as form factors (geltabs, chewable, dissolve, etc.) and count sizes, has made the selection process difficult for many consumers, and busy pharmacy staff (for stores with a pharmacy department) aren’t always available for on-the-spot counsel. Some retailers — such as drug chains Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS — also have deployed informational signage and display graphics to help customers make choices based on their symptoms, as well as grouped products on a solutions basis.
The CHPA Educational Foundation described the pilot with Dollar General as a “first-ever collaboration” aimed at bolstering shoppers’ decision-making capability at the point of purchase, in this case for OTC pain relievers. Retailers like Dollar General, the foundation noted, have a “tremendous opportunity” to help consumers make more informed health care decisions, especially for those living in underserved or rural communities without nearby access to care — or “health deserts” — and community members with low health literacy.
Last year, the foundation commissioned research on educational interventions to support low health literacy populations. Findings indicated the need to provide easily accessible and interpreted health information in both English and Spanish, colorful graphics and iconography, and QR code for ready access to information.
“Our research showed that QR code technology is a preferred way to access information, and we believe our OTC Pain Relief Quiz is a solution to help support shoppers in the pain category, given the myriad of choices available,” Brikman stated. “We are incredibly thankful to Haleon, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., Perrigo and Dollar General for partnering in support of this initiative, and we look forward to continuing to work toward our shared goal of serving consumers and empowering shopper decision-making for better health outcomes.”
The pilot with CHPA comes several months after Dollar General announced the formation of a committee to explore ways to expand its health care offerings. In late July, Dollar General said it created the Healthcare Advisory Panel, a body of health care industry subject-matter experts who serve as “thought partners” and strategists in helping retailer develop its strategy and best invest its resources in the health and wellness arena. A year earlier, the company had unveiled plans to grow its health care business to meet more customer needs and establish itself as a health care destination. The effort included an increased assortment of cough and cold, dental, nutritional, medical, health aids and feminine hygiene products across many Dollar General stores.