Brands Fight to Close The Gap on Health Equityhttps://www.chutegerdeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/RetailHealthEquity-HeaderImage-1440x428-1.jpg1440428Chute GerdemanChute Gerdemanhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/27b8b1d5d4480e694e1d763231b8e868?s=96&d=mm&r=g
The $4.5 trillion global health and wellness industry is undergoing an inclusivity overhaul driven by retail and brand advocates championing greater diversity and accessibility. From online platforms and brand partnerships to progressive retail experiences and positive culture movements, we’ve identified the brands taking an active role to elevate health equity.
In an effort to reduce health disparities and advance health equity in high-risk communities across the country, CVS Health and Uber Health have teamed up to provide transportation at no cost for people who need it most when seeking access to medical care, work, or educational programs.
The relationship is part of Health Zones, CVS Health’s new initiative to address six key social determinants of health: housing, education, access to food, labor, transportation, and healthcare access. With limited transportation being a top social determinant of health, the rideshare program aims to eliminate one of those critical barriers. Now active in five markets, including Atlanta, GA; Columbus, OH; Fresno, CA; Hartford, CT; and Phoenix, AZ, the partnering brands plan to expand the initiative into more cities later this year.
“We’ve long known that access to reliable transportation can help address critical gaps in care that often disproportionately affect vulnerable communities. With the past two years of the pandemic only further highlighting today’s health inequities, it’s more important than ever for communities to have the tools they need to bridge care gaps and achieve better patient and population health outcomes.” – Caitlin Donovan, Global Head of Uber Health
Affordable For All
Most recognizable for his starring role on the entrepreneurial incubator Shark Tank and Dallas Mavericks team ownership, billionaire businessman Mark Cuban is now putting his sharp business acumen to work in the pharmaceutical field. Bypassing healthcare middlemen, he’s taken a direct-to-consumer approach with the launch of Cost Plus Drugs, an online pharmacy for generic drugs.
18 million Americans were recently unable to pay for at least one prescription medication for their household due to ever-rising costs, and 1 in 10 Americans have skipped doses to save money. – Gallup Poll, Sept 2021
Recognizing that high drug costs disproportionately affect sicker and lower-income Americans, the goal is to not only reduce the cost of essential drugs but also create price transparency. By negotiating prices directly with drug manufacturers, Cuban’s online pharmacy is able to charge manufacturer prices plus just a flat 15% markup and pharmacy fee. For example, a 30-count of imatinib, which is used to treat leukemia and other cancers, goes for as low as $17.10 compared with $2,502.60 at other pharmacies. The site currently offers 100 generic drugs to treat a variety of illnesses including diabetes, heart conditions, and asthma.
“We will do whatever it takes to get affordable pharmaceuticals to patients. The markup on potentially lifesaving drugs that people depend on is a problem that can’t be ignored. It is imperative that we take action and help expand access to these medications for those who need them most.” – Alex Oshmyansky, CEO of Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug
A Commitment To Serve
The U.S. Department of Agriculture data indicates that 53.6 million U.S. residents have limited access to healthy food (meaning that they live more than a half-mile from a supermarket or large grocery store in urban areas or more than 10 miles in rural areas). In a fight to combat the disparaging distance, small box discount brand Dollar General is not only expanding its product assortment but continues to expand its location strategy. If you had any question about the potential impact, consider the fact that nearly 75% of Americans live within five miles of the brand’s 17,600 Dollar General stores.
As of 2021 the brand offered fresh produce at more than 1,500 stores and hopes to eventually expand to 10,000 stores with a large percentage of those stores located in areas where consumers lack access to fresh, affordable foods.
“Our mission of serving others is not lip service. It’s an authentic and integral piece of our culture,” Taylor says. “We plan to continue living our mission, and as long as there is a need, we’ll be there looking for ways to serve others.” Emily Taylor, Chief Merchandising Officer, Dollar General
As an advocate for mental health in minority communities and after experiencing his own battles with the subject, Lorenzo Lewis set out to build a positive mental health culture for black boys, men, and their families. Barbershops have had a longstanding history in the Black community as a safe haven for men to connect, so this seemed like a logical place to cut through the mental health stigma to support men of color. The result was founding a nonprofit grassroots organization that trains barbers to serve as mental health advocates and aims to build a nurturing and supportive culture.
With recent years causing great pressure on mental health, CPG shaving brand Gillette not only took note but took action to give the program an elevated platform. In partnership with The Confess Project, the brand launched a cross-country State of Mind Tour in key cities like Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco to train barbers to become mental health advocates. With a mission to support “The Best Men Can Be,” this partnership emphasized the brand’s holistic health position on physical and emotional.
“To end racial inequalities around mental health, we must act in solidarity and unity. This could truly be meeting people where humanity comes together, and we really can make great things happen for the world around us.” – Lorenzo Lewis, founder, and CEO, The Confess Project
Brands and retailers recognize not only the opportunity and assets they have available to help close the gap on critical consumer needs but the responsibility to advance health equity. Now more than ever, it is essential for brands to rethink how they support consumers in their everyday lives to reach better health outcomes. Real community and societal impact starts with a servant mindset.
Want to learn more about consumer lifestyle shifts and the opportunities for brands to support evolving needs? Check our article: A New Appreciation of Home.