The 2021 Retailer Preference Index: Who's winning and why. David Ciancio, Global Head of Grocery discusses the 2021 U.S Retailer Preference Index (RPI): Grocery Edition with the lead author of the RPI, Erich Kahner. They unveil key insights and discuss who is winning and who is best positioned for the future.
In the first episode of Customer First Radio, Dave Clements, Global Head of Retail for dunnhumby and David Ciancio, Global Head of Grocery for dunnhumby kick off the series by discussing what it means to be a truly Customer First business, share which retailers and brands today embody a Customer First mindset, and examine how Customer First materialized during the pandemic with retailers.
The retail sector has experienced both of these extremes, with some seeing strong sales while others have been forced into bankruptcy and liquidation.
Clinical decisions<p>In the US, prescription medicines account for around two-thirds of retail pharmacy revenues¹. As a result, repeat business is vital. Clinical services – a longer-term, more consultative offering than pure dispensary – can help to encourage ongoing business by building a stronger relationship between pharmacist and patient.</p><p>With that in mind, it's little wonder that for many retail pharmacies in the mid-2000s, the decision to expand into clinical services seemed like a natural evolution.</p><p>CVS, Walgreens and others went through a flurry of acquisitions, purchasing small health service companies up and down the US. In-store facilities were rolled out to capture new clinical business and commence the shift into a wider "health services" offering.</p><p>Certain activities, such as immunizations, had successful starts. But the growth of these clinics and their services rapidly dropped off and it soon became apparent that success would not be as readily won as those retailers may have hoped.</p><p>One major problem lay deep in the complex inner workings of US healthcare. Limited by their insurance plan benefit structures, customers would often find themselves unable to access the full range of services offered in-store. Clinical service costs, while usually lower than those available at a hospital or doctor's office, would likely be higher than the <em>insured</em> co-pay price paid by the consumer at the latter.</p><p>Retailers quickly learned that in order to integrate into the healthcare industry, they would need to learn how to influence and control it as well.</p>
Playing a long game<p>CVS, which made the strongest initial investment into in-store clinics, has spent more than a decade in pursuit of that goal. Major product decisions, such as the removal of tobacco from stores (itself a $1bn annual business) were executed in the name of a slow repositioning towards healthcare.</p><p>Strategic acquisitions have only helped to further that ambition. With its first major vertical healthcare purchase – that of PBM Caremark in 2006 – CVS gained control of the levers of customer access and prescription reimbursement for millions of lives. 13 years later, with the acquisition of Aetna, the company added the ability to provide health, dental, vision and other insurance plans to customers.</p><p>Taken to its logical conclusion, this trajectory could lead to the eventual formation of an integrated healthcare system supported by some 10,000 points of service.</p><p>There is growing evidence that an empire of that kind is firmly in the retailer's plans. CVS has already announced its intention to evolve clinics into more expansive "Health Hubs", bringing enhanced services to 1,500 locations by 2021. Health Hubs include more space devoted to clinical services and a broader focus on proactive wellness and nutrition alongside extensive health services.</p><p>That wider remit is immediately evident in an enhanced product assortment, one that includes numerous specialized items and categories for maintaining health and preventative wellness products –. And, perhaps influenced by insights delivered by Aetna, CVS has also chosen to put significant emphasis on chronic condition management, an area that can provide a pharmacy with some of its most valuable customers.</p><p>While CVS is playing a highly strategic game, though, it is by no means the only player to watch.</p>
Save money, live better<p>As the world's largest retailer, just about anything Walmart does is reason for the competition to pay attention. It may have taken more than a quarter of a century for Walmart to start selling groceries after all, but the retail behemoth now holds top position in that segment in North America by an overwhelming margin.</p><p>With that precedent in mind, and in light of Walmart now holding the position as the nation's third largest retail pharmacy provider, it seems likely that another fierce battle for the future of retail pharma is about to begin.</p><p>Launched in fall 2019, the Walmart Health Care Clinic serves as a good indicator as to the strength of the company's ambitions.</p><p>Staffed to deliver an expansive set of services that range from primary care and disease management through to dental, hearing, nutrition and fitness, these sleek, modern facilities offer the same one-stop-shop approach as Walmart's core store.</p><p>Moreover, Health Care Clinics also employ the company's "everyday low pricing" model, something that makes for a compelling proposition regardless of insurance coverage. Medicare and Medicaid are both accepted too, encompassing what is likely a significant number of customers.</p>
The battle within<p>Similar at their core yet, subtly different, these offerings from CVS and Walmart represent a dramatic shift in healthcare delivery in the US.</p><p>While the scale of each remains too small at this point to draw many conclusions, those small differences could carve out room enough for both to flourish. CVS' focus on providing specialist-level health and chronic condition care is different enough from Walmart's "low price, one-stop shop" approach to appeal to a distinct group of customers.</p><p>Rather than between each other, the biggest challenges ahead for CVS and Walmart may actually be found within. As both companies make fundamental changes in order to facilitate a future in which healthcare is a significant part of their offering, they will need to focus on evolving their relationships with their long-term customers too.</p><p>CVS, for instance, will need to ask customers to reconcile the idea that a company that continues to dominate in snacks and candy is now an active participant in their healthcare. And Walmart, famed for its leadership in building highly efficient operations, will need to scale and sustain a healthcare business rooted in flat, affordable pricing, as well as build the credibility as a viable provider of quality healthcare.</p><p>Neither challenge is easy. But if history has taught us anything, it's that when companies of this size decide to redefine an industry from the ground-up, they tend to succeed.</p><p>The arrival of Covid-19 also introduces a new reality unthinkable less than a year ago. Health and wellness permeates all aspects of our lives and vigilance is essential to protect ourselves and our loved ones.</p><ul><li>PPE has become a category in its own right with massive and sustained demand across such items as masks and sanitizers.</li><li>Hospital capacity is being tested repeatedly with infection surges and unable to address lower level and elective procedures</li><li>Vaccination is now a global necessity requiring a distribution network capable of rapidly reaching billions of people</li></ul><div>How this all plays out in the future remains to be seen, but all of the factors above strongly support retailers playing a increasing pivotal role in the Health & Wellbeing of their customers. In the face of the pandemic, the retailer which can most effectively provide quality care and a clear path for the customers through the complexities of the healthcare system will emerge with a far greater and valuable role in their customers' lives.<span></span><br></div>
In my last post, I posed five questions to retailers to help them determine whether they're ready for a customer-first mindset. Now, I'd like to challenge the retail basics that seasoned retailers were trained on, and suggest instead a new customer data science approach.
"Retail is detail" is common industry wisdom, and it means that achieving success is subtle and difficult. Success in any field demands practice and experience, and so it is little wonder that many senior retail and brand leaders and managers have vast years of involvement, and that most have grown up through the business in progressive steps.
Why What We Know About Customers Just Ain’t So<p>The old axioms are no longer factual because customers themselves have dramatically changed, in their needs, expectations and experiences. Separating fact from fiction—and business truths from myths—will change how the business sees itself and how it will make decisions. The following are some of the new truths of retailing in the 21st century:</p><ul><li>Expanding share of wallet from customers who are already "loyal" can better optimize growth.</li><li>Loyal customers need more love and investment than new customers.</li><li>Retaining loyal customers and reducing churn among "opportunity" customers can drive more growth than acquiring new customers.</li><li>Price-sensitive customers are often more profitable than other segments because their basket mix includes more private label products or higher-margin portion sizes.</li><li>Behavioral "buy-o-graphics" and intended trip missions matter much more than demographics or geographics.</li><li>Customer segments are typically distributed variably within geographic regions or zones, but all customer types exist in all stores.</li><li>Store clusters built upon customer dimensions are more useful to operations and execution than store groupings based on geographic zones or volumetrics.</li></ul>
What We Know for Sure Can Fit on a Post-It Note<p>Agility in retail can only be maintained by understanding customers and using data in all available quantitative and qualitative forms. Here's a personal story to illustrate:</p><p>A perception-based research tool measured one retailer's progress against factors that customers themselves had said are most important to them. Before the first customer perception report was published, I set out to learn how the customer ranking compared to the rankings that the senior decision-makers would assign.</p><p>The regular weekly senior team meeting brought together many of the wisest and most seasoned leaders in the business. After briefly introducing the research methodology, I asked the team to list what factors they thought customers would list as important, and in what order they thought customers would place them.</p><p>Not surprisingly, each merchant tended to rank factors in their department higher on the list than those for other parts of the store. Although little agreement was reached, a compromise ranking was eventually defined.</p><p>Comparing our list to the customers' list revealed spectacular differences; leaders had listed most of the same elements as did customers, but in completely the wrong order. That day, the team experienced a true epiphany—they realized that "we didn't know what we didn't know."</p><p>The lessons learned were:</p><ul><li>Humility gained in discovering that "we don't know what we don't know" empowers the customer-first journey.</li><li>To become more relevant to customers, we must become fact-based deciders and activators.</li><li>Using customer data well creates true consensus and inclusive action.</li></ul>
In summary, “In God We Trust” ... all others must bring data.<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDYyMjA4MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzA2MzY0MX0.IONHl7U4GvV1SELtCU05-gSd24MuhErJw9fkohPlDJU/img.jpg?width=980" id="0a481" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="acf695ac2df738141d48aee28b7b9861" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="600" data-height="988" /><p><em>David Ciancio is global customer strategist for Dunnhumby, a pioneer in customer data science, serving the world's most customer-centric brands in a number of industries, including retail. David has 48 years' experience in retail, 25 of which were in store management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org</em></p>
Memories of panic buying may be fading here in the UK but have resurfaced elsewhere1. The near constant threat of another wave of Covid-19 may yet prompt another round of hyper demand. Whilst there is little hard evidence to determine the underlying drivers of panic buying2, there are numerous theories that the retail industry may benefit from exploring.
Feroud Seeparsand, dunnhumby's Senior Consumer Psychologist, outlines some likely theories to explain the 'why' behind the 'panic buy' and some implications for retailers to prevent it reoccurring in future.