Dollar General Targets Medically Underserved Consumers With OTC Pain Relief Quiz

Picking an over-the-counter (OTC)  pain reliever may not be as simple as just getting a bottle of aspirin for your headache, especially for those living in “health deserts” -- underserved or rural communities -- and others with ”low health literacy.”

So three makers of over-the-counter pain relievers have partnered with retail variety chain Dollar General and the nonprofit Consumer Healthcare Products Association Educational Foundation on a pilot point-of-purchase (POP) campaign designed to help consumers choose what kind of pain reliever to buy. 

Answering the eight questions on the “OTC Pain Relief Interactive Quiz” -- available in English or Spanish --  consumers can determine “personal risk factors” such as health conditions contraindicated by a particular OTC drug. The site suggests what kind or kinds of pain relief medication “may be right for you” and which ones pose risk factors, and why.

The companies involved in the program are Johnson & Johnson, marketer of Tylenol acetaminophen; Haleon, (formerly GSK Consumer), marketer of Advil ibuprofen; and Perrigo, maker of Dollar General’s own DG Health acetaminophen and ibuprofen products.

Running through year’s end at all of the retailer’s stores -- nearly 19,000 in 47 states -- the campaign features “Find Pain Relief” shelf ads from Vestcom displayed in each store’s pain relief section. The ads, which come in three different versions, include a QR code with the suggestion to “Take this short quiz to find the pain relievers right for you.”

When scanned, the code takes shoppers to the online quiz that they can take on their phones while in-store.

The quiz results do not recommend particular brands, only the generic drug names, with Tylenol, Advil and “various store brands” listed as examples of each drug along with other brands.

So how were the three drug manufacturers involved in the plan?  “Given their robust expertise with retail initiatives, manufacturers' shopper marketing teams were instrumental in helping us develop and shape this initiative,”Anita Brikman, executive director of the CHPA Educational Foundation, explains to Pharma & Health Insider.

The target audience of those living in “health deserts” and those with low health literacy” makes the initiative a perfect fit for Dollar General, which in 2021 announced plans to make itself a health destination for rural America and which has set up a health advisory panel and created the post of chief medical officer.

“Nearly 75% of Americans live within five miles of a Dollar General store,” Brikman notes. “In rural America, Dollar General store locations provide unique access to communities that are oftentimes underserved by other retailers and have equally limited access to health care options.”

The Foundation commissioned research in 2021 specifically designed to support educational initiatives for low-health literacy populations. The research found that health information should be provided in both English and Spanish, be quickly accessed and easily interpreted, use colorful graphics and iconography, and use QR code technology as the preferred way to access the info.

“As people grow more proactive about their health and well-being, manufacturers and retailers have a critical window of opportunity to address consumers’ needs, by bridging health literacy gaps in a way that enables safe use and better self-care,” Brikman says. “The goal of this pilot program is to help Dollar General shoppers make informed self-care decisions when it comes to choosing which OTC pain relievers may be right for their unique health situation.”

Following the pilot campaign, Brikman says “The Foundation will work alongside Dollar General to mutually assess and review the level of shopper engagement, both in stores and online, in order to measure the program’s impact and success. Our team will determine how to strengthen and advance the program by actively identifying specific areas where consumer-focused solutions can be used to address any gaps.” 

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