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Forecasting the future

DSN’s editor-in-chief sheds light on how retailers have opportunities and challenges ahead in attracting younger consumers.

Someone (Lincoln, maybe?) once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” This doesn’t necessarily apply to business—but in many ways, it does.

Everyone knows that the future (be it health, fashion, politics) is about the next collection of minds, consumers, leaders to advance it. But the next generation is vastly different from the one or two before it, so businesses and suppliers have their work cut out for them.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said recently that if businesses haven’t paid much attention to (or taken the time to learn about) how they can attract younger consumers, they will want to start—and fast. Members of Generation Z—those born roughly between 1997 and 2012—are becoming a driving force in the economy. 

Making up about 68.2 million Americans, they account for slightly more than 20% of the U.S. population and have about $150 billion in buying power. Clearly, a large tech-savvy demographic with such vast spending power is important, but digital retail specialist Sherwen said this group also is important because “they have their own unique buying power and preferences, which retailers need to understand in order to stay relevant,” the U.K. firm said. “This generation has higher expectations when it comes to the retail experience compared to previous generations and value social platforms, organic content and personalisation.”

Our cover story this month looks at the opportunities and the challenges retail pharmacy has when it comes to attracting this important demographic. And it explores what retailers and suppliers need to do. 

As our reporter found out, retail drug stores are well-positioned to meet the healthcare demands of today’s young consumers, but other categories (such as beauty care and personal grooming) may pose more of a challenge as these young shoppers tend to gravitate toward (and favor) category specialists.

“We know that consumer expectations are shifting across the board,” Garry Marshall, director of pharmacy strategy for clinical effectiveness at Wolters Kluwer Health, told our reporter. “However, the younger generation of healthcare consumers have grown up in a more ‘on-demand’ society. It is natural that they would have the same expectations of healthcare.”

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