Family Caregivers: Huge potential, tough to reach

Discussion
Nov 17, 2006

By Dave Wendland, Hamacher Resource Group


With more than one in five households actively engaged in care for a loved one at home, this is a market segment worth paying attention to… and committing resources to address.


Research complied by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) reveals there are more than 44 million family caregivers in the United States. Eighty-three percent of caregivers provide care for a family member.


Studies conducted with The Caregivers Advisory Panel (TCAP), a Hamacher Resource Group service, reported that caregivers purchase more than nine out of 10 healthcare products for the individual they are caring for. And out of pocket purchases average more than $2,500 annually. They provide an immense number of services to those for whom they care such as:


  • Driving a family member, friend or neighbor to doctor’s appointments;

  • Making meals;

  • Helping with household chores such as cleaning, grocery shopping, lawn care, etc.;

  • Making regular phone calls to someone to “check in” on them;

  • Providing hands-on care, including bathing, helping eat, toileting or other help;

  • Helping someone make decisions about medical decisions;

  • Assisting someone with personal business affairs, such as bill paying.

Simply put, caregivers provide huge support to someone who needs help and have unparalleled purchasing needs. And they will likely shop stores at the same time on their own behalf, making them consistent customers.


Indeed, recognition of the family caregiver segment as an identifiable subset of the population is becoming more and more prevalent. The term “caregiver” can now be found in mainstream press from USA Today and the Washington Times to Good Housekeeping and Reader’s Digest. Publications dedicated to providing assistance to family caregivers have also emerged and continue to grow.


As baby boomers reach age 60 and the dynamics of home care evolve, timing may be ideal to address this emerging market niche. It is likely that once an organization makes commitment to the space, be it supplier, retailer or service provider, rewards will follow – rewards not only in the form of increased sales and revenue, but also in the goodwill that comes from helping a group cope with their stress, financial and emotional needs.


But there are challenges to developing this market.


Focusing on any market niche requires top-down commitment and consistent execution and messaging. Many caregivers providing care to a loved one simply feel they are being a good daughter or son taking care of mom or dad and may not see themselves as part of a “caregiver community.” That may make them unresponsive, if messaging isn’t done exactly right.


One of the biggest challenges is actually identifying the caregivers and creating an effective outreach program. The majority of caregivers are untrained and are seeking education and financial relief, so there is no easy way to reach them. Lack of knowledge on their part may limit what they think they need to buy. Many purchases, moreover, are not covered by insurance.


A thorough communications program to reach this segment of the market is necessary, and putting one together requires careful consideration of all the various factors.


Discussion Questions: Is the family caregiving space
a market niche worth addressing? Given the challenges of reaching this market,
how important are POS, in-store advertising and promotion? What strategies would
work in communicating to this market; creating a marketing/merchandising program
caregivers will respond to, and developing powerful repeat business with this
group?

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9 Comments on "Family Caregivers: Huge potential, tough to reach"

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Mark Deuschle
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Mark Deuschle
11 years 22 days ago

There is no debate that there is a market that has identified needs. The only question is who will serve this market best and more importantly…first?

Alex Yakulis
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Alex Yakulis
11 years 22 days ago

There has been a movement within the industry to be mindful of the CPG Shopper as well as the Consumer. Traditionally, marketing and merchandising plans have been developed to address the needs of the Consumer. According to Dave’s opening remarks, the Caregiver needs to be identified as a “Shopper” in the marketing and merchandising equation.

Terry Cerwick
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Terry Cerwick
11 years 22 days ago
I believe there is an untapped market here that deserves more investigation and a strategic plan to address what the best ways to reach these people are. By making their lives easier, I am sure a retailer would develop a very loyal group of consumers. The Pharmacy department could really help to establish the groundwork and direct communications through consumer consultation and direct marketing programs. Bonus Card data should also be used to identify those people that are currently shopping categories such as incontinent and durable medical equipment for direct target marketing opportunities. Like any other company wide initiative it… Read more »
Dan Nelson
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Dan Nelson
11 years 21 days ago

The importance of “emotionally connecting” with consumer segments (especially growing ones) has never been more important for retailers. The challenges to win this segment may reside with how to first identify them, then how to accommodate them with both information and time savings benefits. It seems logical that this segment may be the most time starved of all consumers, as they have (2) households to manage and all that comes with it in caring for the many needs of aging family members.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
11 years 21 days ago
My response to this is based on the three years when I was taking care of my husband (and I absolutely hate the newly devised term Caregiver, by the way). As many of you have recognised, it is a time of severe stress and distress. Nothing is easy, everything is new. But, and perhaps this is another US/UK cultural difference, I had a great deal of support from our doctor and area nursing and healthcare teams. I would not have responded well to “support” from retailers, other than the pharmacist who knew better than to keep me waiting when I… Read more »
Hy Libby
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Hy Libby
11 years 21 days ago

If there is a group of shoppers that could benefit from convenience and time-savings, it is “care givers.” These shoppers haves taken on additional responsibilities at a time in life when they are already dealing with many conflicting priorities. As mentioned, they are probably shopping for themselves AND their “wards” simultaneously; and therefore buying outside their normal needs. They are learning new brands and new products and are pressed for time like never before.

The retailers that show true understanding and help these shoppers fulfill their needs easily (and not just exploit them) will earn their loyalty.

Daryle Hier
Guest
Daryle Hier
11 years 21 days ago
Being a current “caregiver,” I know this segment will be tougher than most to target. Essentially when you shop; ease, cost and quality are all important. Now it might be said that this is asking a lot (who wouldn’t want everything) but as was mentioned, you don’t have the time or energy to be concerned with anything more than getting in and out as quickly as possible (the stress level is always high, always) – but without paying an arm and a leg. It has to be remembered, for the most part, there’s a set budget in these households. I… Read more »
Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
11 years 20 days ago
First, this is a very worthy offering of people’s time; and deserves recognition, 365, 12, 7… whether paid or not. The various ways to promote are linking to web sites that offer a) a means to take care of self, somewhat, and those who get assistance; and b) preventative steps for ones who will need daily or weekly help. Secondly, retailers should focus on happy, but ’emotional’ times of the year to promote to these care givers, whether supportive family members or dear friends, like on Mother’s and Father’s days; the 4th, end of the year Holidays; birthday of care… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
11 years 18 days ago

Caregivers are under terrible stress, timewise and economically. Save them time and money, and you earn their loyalty. Complicated promotions, lots of small print, and incompetent telephone service will all drive these people away. Of course, these tactics drive most customers away, caregivers or not.

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