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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : April 2005
management management updates Preparing for the retail boom from the baby boomers The first baby boomers—a generation born after World War II (1946–1964) creating the biggest population explosion of our time—turn 60 next year, marking the start of a huge and continuing shift in demographics, and providing a new set of retail challenges. CLIFF SOSSEN* reports EVER before has a generation had a greater influence on society. Through sheer numbers, baby boomers have influenced everything from the shifting role of women at home and in the workplace to the rise of con- sumerism. And now it is time for this generational wave of influence to direct its energies towards healthcare and retirement issues. The future prosperity of businesses in these markets will depend on how well they learn to adapt and cater for this generation. N Influences and trends A recent Australian Stock Exchange retirement scope survey of more 9,000 people in 50 countries found that 96 per cent of Australian retirees were happy and believed that retirement was better here than any other country. In many instances their income had also improved, meaning this generation will have more to spend on their needs than any other generation, especially for their healthcare. Baby boomers are different from today’s senior population because they know how to buy and contract for services they want, such as better access to physi- cians, specialists, and state-of-the-art treat- ment methodologies; computer access; exercise programs; health food and vita- mins and pharmaceuticals tailored to their genetic background—making them a far more discerning consumer. Living longer is no longer the goal. Living longer, while looking and feeling young, is now baby boomers’ desire—and, thus, the market’s command. Medical and pharmaceutical technolo- gies are more and more focusing beyond life-threatening health conditions to address enhancement, restoration, and feel-good benefits. The boomers are a large and savvy group that demand solu- tions, however expensive they may be. Pharmacy and the future Community pharmacy will have to make significant changes to satisfy baby boomers’ expectations for quality and ser- vice. Not ‘service like it used to be’, but ‘service like it never was’. Community pharmacy must reinvent itself across all products and service categories in order to remain relevant to their needs. The first baby boomers have far more time on their hands than other genera- tions still in the work force, and can be expected to visit the local pharmacy on a more regular basis. This frequency will place more focus on the interpersonal relationships formed between pharma- cists and their customers, but also offers pharmacy the unique opportunity of becoming a ‘one-stop’ healthcare destina- tion that delivers healthcare solutions rather than simply selling health products. A solutions-based approach will also help to push the introduction of, or increase specialisation in, a range of healthcare services such as those for: skin care; hormone treatment; blood pressure and cholesterol tests; disease states such as diabetes and asthma; weight manage- ment; compounding; and any other spe- cialised primary healthcare service demanded by the evolving demography. 270 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.86 APRIL 2005 Baby boomers also seek more control of their own health than generations before them. This is likely to increase demand for self-care options such as nutraceuticals and other complementary medicines. Creating the right environment In order for pharmacies to capitalise on this emerging market, they need to con- centrate on those core markets that directly satisfy the baby boomer. In doing so, the pharmacy environment should also ‘walk the talk’ of these services, and ensure that the customer has an enjoyable shopping experience. Decor and signage throughout the store becomes important in highlighting all these departments. It is also crucial for the pharmacist to market these services effectively, both inside the pharmacy and via external sources such as the local newspaper. Baby boomers have generally become discerning media users and actively seek information that might provide answers to the solutions they seek. How will they know what ser- vices you offer if you don’t tell them? The creation of a pristine, health ori- entated environment is best achieved through ticketing and décor. Banishing all banners and brash advertising boards is recommended. The goal is to develop an environment that reflects a more subtle form of professionalism. * Cliff Sossen has 40 years’ experience in developing and delivering retail management solutions and is managing director of Plus 1 Solutions. He can be contacted on 0414 458 116.