Where are the ‘integration sweet spots’ for your brand?

“How does that help me sell more cases, pallets and truckloads?” That’s a question I have been asked repeatedly, particularly as the world of retail pharmacy has evolved to play a larger role in health care. With that, the business that we cover in Drug Store News has become incredibly more complicated.


Case in point: The story that appears on the cover of this issue. CVS Caremark is an exponentially more complex company than it was when I first started covering it for DSN 15 years ago — that was just before CVS purchased Revco, and in the very earliest days of a new, homegrown pharmacy benefit management business it called Pharmacare back then. Today, it is a $120 billion healthcare goliath made up of three core businesses: more than 7,300 CVS/pharmacy stores, 650 MinuteClinics and the second-biggest PBM in the country.


Yet, I just know it’s only a matter of time before someone says to me, “Hey Rob, that’s great — but how does that help me sell more cases, pallets and truckloads?” And hey, I get it; if you’re a supplier in this industry, it’s a valid question.


The answer is simple. If you ask any retailer, “What’s the first thing a new vendor needs to do if they want to get into your stores?” The very first thing any of them will tell you is: “Know my company.” If you don’t understand the chains that you’re selling to; if you don’t know who they are; how they see themselves; what the vision is for their stores; who they think their core customer is; and how they expect that to change, how can you ever expect to be a relevant part of their future?


Case in point: CVS Caremark. Not to be lost in any of this analysis about CVS Caremark’s integration sweet spots is that the largest of these businesses continues to be the company’s 7,400 CVS/pharmacy stores. And make no mistake, CVS merchants still are actively trying to grow market share in all of its core front-end businesses. That hasn’t changed. If anything, the company looks at each of its businesses for opportunities for any one to grow the other two.


So, having read our exclusive “Category of One” report, and knowing what you now know about the overall “good trend/bad trend” strategy that CVS Caremark is applying to its businesses to better manage costs and improve patient outcomes for payers, where does your brand fit in? Where is the “integration sweet spot” in CVS Caremark for your brand?


Maintenance Choice is bringing more patients back into its stores. These are patients that are battling some form of a chronic condition. If you’re an Rx or OTC company, what is the opportunity for your brand? Pharmacy Advisor is addressing nonadherence and identifying gaps in therapy for patients with diabetes. This spring, CVS Caremark is going to expand that program into high cholesterol, and into asthma/COPD by the end of the year, with a number of other disease states coming in 2013 and beyond. Where could your brand fit here?


And what about the clinics? Expanding into chronic care and wellness is going to create more opportunities for MinuteClinic practitioners to make product recommendations for brands that will help manage a patient’s condition. According to our 2011 Retail Clinician "Annual Reader Survey," 62% of NPs in retail clinics already are talking to all or most of their patients about their chronic conditions, regardless of the nature of the visit; 75% said the clinics they work for already have programs in place around disease state management and/or wellness/prevention, including hypertension (53%), smoking cessation (43%), diabetes (40%) and weight management (28%). During these visits, NPs are recommending an OTC item at least 40% of the time; 60% of the time these visits end with a prescription and an OTC recommendation; and about 60% of the time, they recommend vitamins and supplements.


So, how does any of this help you sell more cases, pallets and truckloads? Find the “integration sweet spots” for your brand. That’s how.


Rob Eder is the editor in chief of The Drug Store News Group, publishers of Drug Store News, DSN Collaborative Care and Specialty Pharmacy magazines. You can contact him at reder@lf.com.

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