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How Canadian Drug Stores Can Capture Baby Boomers and Millennials


Retail Category Consultants presented at the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS) Annual Conference 2014 at the Vancouver Convention Center on how Canadian drug stores can capture both Baby Boomers and Millennials and why retailers should use a Non-Traditional Strategy to drive growth.

Here’s what you need to know to capture both Baby Boomers and Millennials in your retail stores:

Baby Boomers

There are currently 9 million Canadian Boomers heading into or already in their retirement years. This is a significant demographic that will comprise 50% of the entire population by 2020. Baby Boomers want to live comfortably by spending on themselves and their families and friends. Contrary to popular belief, Baby Boomers will pay for quality and are fiercely loyal to brand names they care about. Canadian drug stores must address the following Baby Boomer trends to capture their business:

  • Baby Boomers do research before they head out to shop and use desktops and laptops more. Find ways to provide tips and resources to Baby Boomers online and educate them to make purchasing decisions easier.
  • Baby Boomers’ loyalty comes with personalized service and attention. They want in-store associates to provide them with excellent customer service and know what their shopping preferences are.
  • Baby Boomers like voice-to-voice and face-to-face contact.  Retailers need an integrated customer service strategy to ensure all channels are given equal attention.
  • They look for flair and form, not just function. They look for brands designed to impress and to last and expect to remain the centre of attention for retailers and marketers.
  • Baby Boomers don’t want to be reminded that they are getting old!

Drug stores should ditch the dreaded Seniors’ Aisle and Seniors Day promotions and aim to integrate Baby Boomer offerings with the rest of their store. Instead of trying to reach Baby Boomers through traditional flyers alone, use digital channels they frequent and convert them there. Baby Boomers want personalized offers and customized service. While Millennials may have invented social shaming, Baby Boomers demand just as much quality online customer service through email and digital channels, so don’t neglect them or they will write negative customer reviews.


Millennials are rising from the ashes. While they did enter the workforce during tough economic times, many are paying off their student loans and finding that their job prospects are better than ever before. Millennials will represent 40% of the workforce by 2020, and have a spending power comparable to 30% of all retail sales. Since Millennials are digital natives and don’t mind carrying their brands with them 24/7 on their mobile phones, here’s what drug stores should know about them and do:

  • Millennials’ identity comes from the brands they associate themselves with. Drug stores should have products that speak to their personal values and encourage them to embrace their individuality.
  • Millennials are showroomers and use mobiles to search for online reviews and product information while in the store. Showrooming is here to stay, so find ways to make it easier for Millennials, like American Apparel did through their scanning app.
  • Millennials want a seamless omni-channel experience. Store associates need to use tools and technology to know about products and inventory levels in all channels and convert Millennials to more attractive offerings.
  • They expect transparency and they value fair business practices, so stock your shelves with organic and sustainable products. However, don’t make it too expensive or inconvenient to purchase, or else Millennials won’t set foot in your stores.

In the digital age, it’s no longer enough to passively read a list of benefits for buying your product. You have to engage the Millennial by providing them with an opportunity to try the product firsthand. Use experiential marketing to provide an immersive in-store experience that makes an impact. However, make sure that your in-store and online experiences are consistent. Since Millennials are digital natives, they expect what they know about your products online to be true in-store, and delivering an inconsistent experience could break a Millennial transaction.

HEALTH will resonate with both these segments. Position yourself as a holistic health provider, and you will capture both Millennials and Baby Boomers.

For Baby Boomers, think about how you can incorporate nutritionists, naturopaths, fitness trainers, and other health care practitioners into your in-store offering. Your pharmacists and sales associates should become a member of the Baby Boomer’s larger healthcare and lifestyle team.

For Millennials, partner with brands and personalities that Millennials are already loyal to. Think about popular blogs that they follow, YouTube celebrities, and fitness gurus. But first engage the Millennial by showing them that you’re providing great value for their buck, and keep them engaged by telling them that they’re exemplifying social responsibility by purchasing organic, sustainable, and environmentally friendly products.

Baby Boomers and Millennials are both important to sustaining your drug store business. While you have to target your marketing for both groups, they’re fundamentally not that different—we’re all human, after all!

To learn more about how we can help your retail business achieve success, visit our retail services page or contact us for further information.