LAS VEGAS — A significant shift in U.S. demographics promises to challenge the health care system — and by extension supermarkets that offer health and wellness products and services — as ethnic minorities prepare to become the majority by the year 2042.
While the public sector strives to accommodate minorities who might be uninsured and earning lower incomes, mainstream supermarkets will have to fight to capture a greater share of ethnic shopper spending on health care products, according to Thomas Tseng, principal and co-founder, New American Dimensions, Los Angeles.
Tseng outlined the connection between supermarkets, ethnic consumers and health and wellness solutions during a presentation, “Building Health and Wellness Through Ethnic Marketing Programs,” during FMI's Health & Wellness Conference here last week.
In searching for solutions, retailers should look at successful programs already established by some operators. One such program reaching the Hispanic community is called “A Su Salud” or “To Your Health,” supported and widely implemented over the last several years through CVS Caremark, Woonsocket, R.I.
The program is administered by a third party and run in 500 CVS stores located around highly populated Hispanic neighborhoods primarily in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and Miami.
“To Your Health” health fairs are a collection of health screening services coupled with opportunities for an individual or an entire family to consult directly with health care practitioners. Here, attendees of the events can learn about a wide range of health and medical-related programs and services available in their community.
“This is very much a community outreach program and not a customer-retention program. Because of what they do well, as an outreach program, it has a lot of outcomes that actually [enhance] customer-retention loyalty,” Tseng told FMI attendees.
In 2009, CVS/pharmacy screened more than 195,000 attendees at “A Su Salud” events across the country. Many health concerns were discovered in the individuals screened, including:
33% had high cholesterol.
36% had a high to moderate risk of developing osteoporosis.
28% had hypertension.
22% had diabetes, with more than half being diagnosed with diabetes for the first time.
Once screened, CVS/pharmacy helps patients through on-site consultations with physicians who analyze the results and refer patients to no-cost or low-cost medical facilities nearby, or to their primary care physician should additional follow-up be required.
Tseng said CVS measures the effectiveness of the program using two metrics: prescription transfers to CVS pharmacy and sales at the stores the day of event. Store sales on the day of event often generate enough revenue to pay for the entire program for that particular day, said Tseng.
A third of those who participate in the health fair are uninsured and get referred to health care professionals that charge service fees that range from $25 to $100. The average fee for service is $45.
Tseng said financial assistance is provided to patients who can't afford the cost of prescriptions, which are often fulfilled at a CVS store.