Connect with Pharmacy Shoppers During Cold & Flu Season
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
When the cold and flu season hits most consumers head to their pharmacy for relief, not to their physician’s office. In fact, research shows that individuals visit their doctor three times per year on average, but visit retail stores and pharmacies over 25 times a year to spend more than $330. 1 Retail dietitians can use this seasonal opportunity to connect with customers and provide value-added nutrition and wellness services to help drive sales and shopper loyalty. Consider these ideas for taking special care of those shoppers who may not be feeling well:
- Use in-store communication social media to remind shoppers of the importance of staying hydrated when ill. Promote options such as flavored waters, tea, soups/broth, or electrolyte beverages. Create a display of better-for-you beverages near your pharmacy’s cold and flu relief products and add signage to encourage fluids and hydration.
- Offer some healthy, simple, kid-friendly food tips and recipe cards on the pharmacy counter to help those parents trying to encourage a sick child to eat.
- Provide a shopping list, online and in-store, of products that are perfect for someone suffering from the flu or a cold – tea, honey, soup, throat soothing lozenges, citrus, water, tissues, vitamins, lip balm, etc. You could also package these items in a “get well” bag or basket to make it convenient for an ill shopper or family member to purchase.
- There is a strong link between gut health and a strong immune system. Offer tips on foods that can promote a healthy digestive system such as probiotic and prebiotic food sources. Have this list on hand for customers who may come to your pharmacy for a flu shot.
- Use social media to promote recipes for simple homemade soups that include healthful private brand ingredients.
- Keep team members healthy by educating them on ways to prevent the spread of germs, along with promoting flu shots and healthy eating tips.
- Incentivize shoppers to get their flu vaccines by providing coupons or a small store gift card that can be used for healthy foods.
- The cold and flu season is a big driver of sales for products related to prevention and treatment. Many customers will be interested in products designed to help the body naturally prevent and treat cold and flu symptoms. Add educational selling content to ads to encourage healthy food choices that can boost the immune system.
- Be prepared to answer questions or provide science-based resources regarding alternative health care products. Lifestyle changes have increased the number of consumers interested in a more “natural” approach to preventing and treating the flu and colds. OTC preventive medicines, vitamins, and other supplements are growing in popularity.
- Teas are very popular during the cold and flu season, when shoppers spend 28% more on herbal teas compared to the average month (Nielson, 2017). Set up a “tea tasting” demo near the pharmacy and handout a pantry and medicine cabinet stocking list of healthful foods and needed OTC items.
When your customers are feeling their worst, find ways to make your store the place they turn to for care and comfort.
- Statistics on OTC Use, Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Accessed July 2018.