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Millennials redefine in-store experience


As millennials have cemented themselves as the largest generation by population at 75.4 million, outnumbering baby boomers for the first time, the retail industry has been inundated with insights about their shopping habits.

According to Kantar Retail’s Nicole Santosuosso, the uptick in information and insights about millennials has obfuscated the ways millennials are ushering in fundamental changes in how all consumers shop.

“Really what I’m talking about is a new consumer — a new proactive health consumer that’s using technology to facilitate a more seamless health experience,” Santosuosso said at Kantar Retail’s Drug Channels Workshop. “Gen Y is taking a different approach — relying on the store as more of an overall health destination and leveraging digital tools to streamline that experience.”

Millennials exist at the intersection of techsavviness and health needs, as they are 57% more likely than all consumers to have researched an item online while in-store and 68% more likely to have purchased something through a retailer’s app. At the same time, they experience health conditions comparable to other age groups, especially psychiatric conditions. And by using technology to drive personalization, healthcare retailers are looking to meet millennials where they want to be met.

“The drug store no longer has one touch-point to the consumer, ... but instead they now have multiple touchpoints from which they can intersect and connect with their shoppers,” Santosuosso said. “We’ve seen each of the drug retailers investing in their digital capabilities and strategies, both on the backend — investing in digital capabilities and data — and on the front-end with new platforms and digital tools.”

These tools are largely taking the shape of new technology. Walgreens’ efforts to reach the millennial consumers begin with its app — which allows users to manage their prescriptions and view Balance Rewards points and digital coupons. Walgreens also has partnerships with MD Live for telehealth, which recently added behavioral health appointments, and Postmates for delivery. It also has its program to reward healthy behavior with Balance Rewards points.

Similarly, CVS has partnered with telehealth providers Teladoc, American Well and Doctor on Demand to provide customer-saving information. The drug retailer also has formed a partnership with IBM’s Watson to use patient data to create predictive services for patients with chronic conditions. The company also has implemented a curbside pickup feature called CVS Express and has worked to turn its web-site into a healthcare resource through Minute-Clinic’s digital properties.

Rite Aid is focusing on growing its Plenti customer base, and has implemented in-store proximity beacons at all locations through a partnership with InMarket. The beacon-level proximity data gives Rite Aid the ability to target customers in a way that’s similar to that used in e-commerce. The beacons also create the infrastructure to allow Rite Aid to link its stores to the Internet of Things, creating an always-on store environment.

Given all of the efforts that retailers are making to reach millennials, Santosuosso outlined ways that suppliers can leverage technology and health to reach millennials both in the store and beyond. Millennials need to believe in the mission behind a product, and because suppliers’ ability to tell stories about their product and get millennials engaged is limited at the shelf, Santosuosso recommended that brands ask themselves how they communicate their missions and how they customize their message.

Suppliers also can sell products at their preferred price, if they communicate the value of the product. And they can promote their products by partnering with outside companies to provide value-added services and technology to drive conversion.

The final thing Santosuosso recommended considering is placement — creating more meaningful connections to the brand, while extending the experience beyond the store through technology.

“The beauty of [technology] is that you always have the endcap,” Santosuosso said. “It’s allowing suppliers to use digital platforms to drive digital engagement with this new proactive consumer.”

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