Paint the ‘American health dream’

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Recent consumer lifestyle changes have made active clients a focus in our industry. People are looking to be more proactive in their wellness regimes and are looking for products to help them do that. Although this is an overall positive shift, it’s also a challenging one for our industry: trying to balance the varying needs of this particular consumer group and bring them the products they need. These active consumers lie at many points on a large spectrum—some are just kick-starting more activity into their lives, others have intermediate activity levels, and some have been living this lifestyle for years. This raises the question to traditional HME owners, “How can a traditional HME fulfill the wide range of needs that active clients have?” To do so, the HME owner must define their target market and streamline their messaging.

Active client demographics

The definition of an active client in our target market varies immensely. Finding a middle ground can be tough, but what remains consistent is the general demographics of the group. Who is the active client, and what will get their attention?

The customers causing the change in the industry are males and females ages 35-55 with income levels of $45,000 to $150,000. Their interests include eating well, taking an active role in their health, and being involved in their community and family life. Remember these traits and adjust the marketing message accordingly, and it won’t matter if the customer who walks into an HME is a seasoned marathoner or trying on compression for the first time.

Designing the marketing message

When marketing to active clients, the No. 1 rule is to avoid clinical talk. These people are engaged and excited to own their healthy lives—they’re not sick or broken and won’t respond to messaging suggesting they are. For all marketing pieces, use lifestyle images to paint a picture for the active client of the life they want to live. Images of happy people, similar to the demographic you’re targeting, doing an activity—a middle-aged woman running or a family man riding a bicycle with his kids are good examples. If an HME paints the active client’s “American health dream,” customers will be more attracted to shopping.

Next, be mindful of what channels work best to communicate the message. Get creative! This market is ambitious, fast-moving and are looking for something different. Find a creative avenue in your market that caters to their lifestyle. Find a brand ambassador—a current customer who this market can identify and engage with. Build a social media campaign around this person’s active lifestyle story that will build followers and allow people to connect with your brand. Be conscious of this target market’s time. Active clients are just that—always on the move. They don’t have time to read long paragraphs in a marketing piece or listen to a salesperson exhaust them with information on products. Marketing to these customers needs to be attention-grabbing and to the point.

Fulfilling the needs of active clients

Any salesperson will agree—asking questions is crucial for discovering the needs of a customer. It allows them to build rapport and trust with the customer. Due to the variety of needs and tastes of these active customers, it is important that the salesperson ask strategic questions to understand what they truly need. Start by asking open-ended questions like these to get the conversation rolling:

  1. Describe your current activity level?
  2. What are your long-term health or fitness goals?
  3. What is a hurdle you face in reaching those goals?

This should give the salesperson a good idea what the active client is looking for and can make recommendations based off the responses.

Choosing the right products for active clients

Providers can easily grow their businesses into serving active clients by expanding their compression and orthotics categories into active and athletic brands. Many providers are already carrying these categories to some extent because they are a natural extension of other main categories like mobility and pain management. By adding active brands and styles to these categories, they can quickly and easily expand their customer base into younger, more active clients.

To find quality vendors for these products, remember to assess them by more than just the product and price. Do they offer education for employees? Do they have co-marketing opportunities?

Explore the opportunity

Remember to have fun with this opportunity to target active clients, as this is a new puzzle to solve. This is a new and broader group to reach in the industry than ever before, and if the traditional HME sees this as an intriguing opportunity, they will have no problem appealing to the interests of this group.

Rob Baumhover is the director of Retail Programs with VGM Group Inc. He is the creator of the VGM Retail Program, which assists VGM members to diversify their HME businesses through improved retail operations. Connect with Rob at rob.baumhover@vgm.com.