Digital, self-care to shape industry in 2017


In 2017, how people shop, why people shop and what they’re shopping for will all be shaped by two overarching themes — access to digitized health information and wearables, as well as other Bluetooth-enabled, diagnostic-style self-care offerings.

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“The major disruptive technology in our industry right now is access to healthcare information by consumers,” said Scott Melville, president and CEO of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, in an interview with Drug Store News earlier this year. “They’re more informed than ever, [and] they have more resources available [to them]. … Technology is empowering them. That’s a tremendous opportunity for our industry to provide more information to them, [but] the challenge is to make sure the information sources they’re going to are legitimate sources that provide good information.”

The speed between browsing and buying has never been faster, according to WebMD research. Consumers researching an OTC remedy have, on average, actually purchased that product within three hours of beginning their research, or within less than 25 minutes if that purchase is being made entirely online.

“Our industry is rapidly transforming through new technologies, apps, digital and online capabilities, and the connected consumer is driving the market,” said Patrick Spear, president and CEO of GMDC. “In fact, our research reported nearly half of all in-store retail sales were influenced by digital in 2014, and by the end of 2015, 64% of in-store sales were expected to be affected.”

According to an Accenture study, the number of consumers who use mobile health apps increased from 16% in 2014 to 33% in 2016, and the number of consumers who use health wearables increased from 9% to 21%.

For example, such wearable technologies as Fitbit and Apple Watch literally keep the pulse of today’s connected consumer by monitoring physical activities with a variety of data and diagnostics at the tip of their hands. Wearables are expected to vault by more than 200% from 80 million units sold in 2015 to 214 million in 2019. Sales are expected to nearly triple in that time from $2 billion to $5.8 billion. According to GMDC research, 1-in-3 consumers will be using a wearable device to better track their health by the end of 2019. Closely following wearables in popularity are augmented and virtual reality, where significant investments have already been made, GMDC noted.

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