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Retailers Should Get to Know Their Chronically Ill Consumers: IRI

CHICAGO -- As more supermarkets take on targeted marketing, the last thing they may be thinking about is whether or not their shoppers are obese or diabetic. But a new report from Information Resources, Inc. here suggests that since chronic sufferers are strongly influenced by their health conditions, retailers and manufacturers have an opportunity to develop relationships with them while simultaneously driving product sales across categories.

Thirty percent of American adults suffer from obesity, followed by 17 percent that have high cholesterol, and 6 percent with diabetes, IRI noted in its latest Times & Trends report, "Chronic Disease: Capitalizing on Growth Potential through Patient Marketing." Companies can segment and sub-segment level analysis of channel selection and purchase behavior of these three groups.

Leveraging high cholesterol as a case study, IRI's assessment reveals critical differences among patient segments within ailment groups as determined by insurance coverage, demographics, and presence of additional ailments.

"The three ailments that we studied for our report -- obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes -- represent sizeable segments of our population, so the marketing potential is enormous," said Stephen C. Johnson, e.v.p. and g.m., Healthcare Solutions Group, IRI. "Our study highlights the ability to develop highly targeted, relevant marketing programs to these consumers by identifying purchasing habits of patient segments within each ailment group, bringing ailment marketing to a whole new level."

Of particular interest to supermarkets is the fact that diet is a fundamental component of consumers' efforts to manage chronic health conditions. In fact, consumers suffering from obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes are two to three times more likely than non-sufferers to follow low-fat, low-sugar and low-carbohydrate diets, according to IRI.
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