Family Caregivers: Huge potential, tough to reach
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