As providers strive to diversify their revenues, they must continue to reach out to new markets as well as do a better job of serving all their patients’ needs. Bearing that in mind, compression products are an excellent method for reaching the women’s health market, both in terms of patients you’re already serving and attracting new clients to your HME business.
Since women represent 50 percent of the population, they already constitute a huge market, but they have unique needs that require unique products and services, and one of those needs is compression. Compression products, such as hosiery, socks and arm sleeves, offer many benefits for patients, from providing simple relief for tired and achy legs to helping to prevent severe varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Yes, men and women both use compression products, but women are the prominent demographic. Key women’s compression offerings include compression hosiery, and knee-high offerings in particular; compression sleeves and gloves; lymphedema compression garments; wraps; and leggings.
Also, know that some women’s health customers might be coming to you for one set of HME needs, but will also need compression. Good examples of this would be breast cancer patients and maternity patients, which are both groups that often need compression to address related health issues.
They must create a business that strives to provide top-shelf care and products for patients and referral partners alike. And that means laying a solid foundation in terms of market understanding, staff expertise, customer care and resources. Let’s take a closer look:
While compression garments provide a therapeutic benefit, their users also consider them to be part of their wardrobe. Fashion plays a role — and in many cases a strong role. Bearing that in mind, who wants a drawer full of just one color hose or stockings? Therapy or not, people want to feel that what they’re wearing makes them look good, not just feel good. Bearing that in mind, provide a wide range of product types, sizes, colors and styles. In fact, color and style are more important than you might initially realize. Compression garment manufacturers are well aware of your customers’ desire for a wide range of choices and are continually updating their range to address seasonal changes and fashion trends.
Ensure your product displays are attractive and engaging, and show how compression garments can pair up with other articles of clothing. Also, change your displays on a regular basis to keep things looking fresh and new. (Consider taking a trip to the local mall or department store to get ideas on how to display your items.) Provide signage and product information to help the products do the selling if your staff is attending to other customers. Focus on product packaging, which can often be as important as the “look” of the actual compression garments. Seek out products that are packaged like other retail items.
Also, remember that not all women have the same taste. You will be reaching out to a diverse market of compression users, so make sure that your merchandising reflects that. You might want to create separate displays that appeal to both sets of customers, such as young professionals, athletic users, and seniors.
IT PAYS TO ADVERTISE
There are a couple of key things to keep in mind: compression products are retail; they’re seasonal; and you’re trying to reach new customers. This means you must increase your marketing and advertising efforts.
In terms of marketing channels, social media and web campaigns offer effective and targeted reach. You should be able to reach specific locations and demographics in your area with message points that will resonate with them.
Also, like your merchandising, your advertising needs to be “of the moment.” You should monitor fashion trends, local clothiers’ ad campaigns, and your vendors’ product releases to see what is the latest. As mentioned, your product lineup needs to match those trends, and so too does your advertising.
Consider using special, seasonal pricing promotions. With enough advanced planning, you can create pricing and discount plans that will keep customers returning to the store to take advantage of the latest values and fashion trends.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
You can stock a compelling line of fashion garments that will hook a variety of customers, but you’ll go nowhere if you can’t sell products within the context of patient care. Your team should have a solid understanding of disease states that are involved and the products that service them. Employees should know the features and benefits of key category products and to be able to effectively communicate that with customers.
Moreover, it is a good idea to have a certified compression fitter on the team, who can help ensure that patients are getting the right grade of compression and the correct format of the garment (such as closed, or open toe) for the patient. Many compression manufacturers offer webinars, in-store training and knowledgeable customer service reps that will help providers learn more about their products, compression technology and matching patients with the right products. With that knowledge, you are better armed to help patients and capture referral sources.
WORD OF MOUTH IS CRITICAL
Because many aspects of women’s health are private and require delicate and discrete service, providers need to understand that word of mouth will play a critical role in their success in terms of providing compression to that market. Women’s health patients want to do business with a provider that takes their needs seriously and that they can trust. So if a breast cancer patient or a maternity patient feels like the provider is providing knowledgeable care that is tailored to her needs, there is a good chance that she will pass that information along to her peers and possibly a referring physician or similar healthcare professional. Moreover, don’t be afraid to ask for them to spread the word.
POINTS TO REMEMBER:
- If you’re trying to break into the women’s health market, compression products are a great way to start, because women make up the majority of the compression market.
- There are a variety of conditions that need compression, which means you must offer a comprehensive range of products.
- Compression garments provide therapy, but at the end of the day they are clothes, so fashion plays a crucial role in rotating inventory, properly merchandising products, and marketing and advertising.
- Your staff must have solid product knowledge, and you should train key team members in compression fitting.
To help get your team trained in compression, some vendors offer instruction. SIGVARIS (sigvaris.com) provides a Basic Fitter Seminar, as well as a Certified Compression Specialist Training Course. Also, the Juzo Academy (juzoacademy.com) offers live and online courses.