ADL Products No Longer Institutional Looking
Experts in the ADL market agree: the market is growing, products are becoming more aesthetically pleasing and there are so many products to choose from that HMEs are advised to tailor their product selection for their consumer base.
"In the ADL market, in general, I think companies are producing products that are less institutional looking and less conspicuous, they don't stand out as much. The bariatric market is also getting more and more attention paid to it," said Susan Talonowski, director of marketing at Maddak Inc. Pequannock, N.J.
ADL's are taking center stage as the baby boomer generation, an estimated 78 million in the United States, grows older. According to the 2000 Census, of the five-year age groups, 50-to-54 year olds experienced the largest percentage of growth in population over the previous decade at a total of 55 percent. The second fastest-growing age group was 45 to 49, which experienced a 45-percent increase.
"Something as simple as an elevated toilet seat could really change the quality of a person's life, but if they don't know it the product exists it doesn't do them any good."
In addition to baby boomers, population increases include the elderly, with more than 35 million (12 percent of the U.S. population) at age 65 and over. As our total population continues aging, the demand for ADLs rises as most elderly want to remain at home and maintain their independence.
"With the mind set that people want to stay in their homes longer and not be in retirement homes, the products we design and manufacture will provide them with the solutions for their day to day living," said Peter Shmagola, director of business development for Parsons ADL, Tottenham, Ontario, Canada.
Consumers taking a more proactive role in their own health care, is another trend that affects the ADL market. With more people researching options on the Internet, more people are likely to discover the ADL products available to them. "Baby boomers will also have more disposable income to afford these products. They also will be more aware of the availability of the products through Web sites and in some cases dealing with the issues of their parents," said Shmagola.
Displaying Your ADLs
Shmagola recommends that HMEs provide the staples of the ADL industry such as reachers, raised toilet seats, grooming and bathing products, grab bars as well as cutlery and kitchen items?but to do so in a way that is unique.
"HMEs should be displaying these products out of the packages. For example, have a shelf with a dinner place setting," Shmagola said.
"ADL products are difficult at best to display neatly as they come in all different shapes and sizes. The best displays I have seen at a dealer is where they pick a small selection of products and allocate a well lit area of the store to sell them," he said.
Talonowski agrees, adding, "Start small with 15-20 products and work from there. Also ask suppliers to provide a list of top sellers for specific categories you're targeting."
Another benefit to HMEs is to work with manufactures who offer quick turnaround time on fulfilling product requests.
"We at Parsons ADL pride ourselves on shipping dealer orders the next day after receipt, this eliminates the dealer from having to maintain large quantities of our products," Shmagola said.
Product Awareness & The Future
Although many consumers will find out about product innovations through the Internet, HMEs need to work with manufacturers to help facilitate consumer awareness.
"I have spoken to many groups of seniors and many of them were not aware of the products available to them. I do in-services and find that the HME dealer that I would go with will first get a sale on ADL items and after that get a lead on a rollator or wheelchair," Shmagola said.
Whether ADL items exist as add-on sales, or as products that are becoming more of a necessity for the U.S. aging population, consumer awareness is a necessity.
"There definitely needs to be more industry and consumer awareness of ADLs," said Talonowski. "In the past few years awareness has increased, however, there are still so many people out there that don't know these products exist. Something as simple as an elevated toilet seat could really change the quality of a person's life, but if they don't know it the product exists, it doesn't do them any good."
This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of HME Business.
J. Daniel Hull is an environmental lawyer, litigator and lobbyist with Hull McGuire PC (www.hullmcguire.com), which has offices in Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C. and San Diego. The firm practices in the areas of environmental law, litigation, legislative affairs, IP, employment practices and international tax and transactions. Mr. Hull can be reached at (619) 239-9400. His blog is at http://whataboutclients.com.
Jay Williams is the HME National Sales Manager for QS/1 Data Systems, a provider of pharmacy and HME management software. He can be reached at (800) 622-4861.