Growing Share in the Health and Wellness Market

Sep 02, 2003

Commentary by Bill
Bishop – BrainTrust

There is no faster growing, large consumer market in the U.S. than health and
wellness. But, so far, most retailers have only been passive beneficiaries,
e.g., the strong double-digit growth in pharmacy sales.

The opportunity in health and wellness, however, is much broader, and retailers
need to find ways to more effectively tap into this demand. The outline of this
opportunity at retail was first called out in the GMDC Do-It-Yourself Health
report (published in 1997) which documented the strong growth for OTC medications,
vitamin supplements, and medical ware that was taking place in supermarkets
even at that time. This report was followed by the FMI- and GMDC-led Whole Health
initiative that expanded the opportunity to include both pharmacy and healthy

Recently, efforts to serve the health and wellness market have produced some
strong results, but it appears that these results have been limited by the self-service
retail model, i.e., shoppers are expected to find the items they want without
much help. This model only works well when shoppers know:

  • The product or products that will satisfy their needs

  • That the store carries the product

  • Where to find the product in the store

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case when it comes to shoppers with health and
wellness needs. These shoppers want to quickly determine the best way to respond
to their health or wellness concerns and then easily find the product or products
that satisfy these needs in their stores.

This personalized interaction is difficult today because of the pressure on
labor costs. But, it can be delivered through technology. Imagine a store that
offers shoppers a way to:

  • Get their own answers to literally thousands of different questions about
    health and wellness which have been drawn from the work of a leading university

  • Measure their blood pressure and body mass and maintain a private and secure
    file for future use on the Internet

  • Easily learn about new and improved health and wellness products

  • Tap into counseling and screening through the store’s pharmacy

All this and more will be available to shoppers in HealthSmart Rx-equipped
stores operated by Stop & Shop, Giant Foods, and Hy-Vee Supermarkets, as
well as a number of independent drug stores in the Chicago area beginning September

HealthSmart Rx is a program that has been developed under the visionary leadership
of Rosalie Sagraves, Dean of the University of Illinois Chicago, College of
Pharmacy. According to Dean Sagraves, “HealthSmart Rx brings pharmacists out
from behind the counter. It redesigns pharmacy services in accord with the way
studies show pharmacists are viewed—as the most trusted health-care professionals
and the ones who are most communicated with.”

HealthSmart Rx represents a logical extension in the evolution of retail pharmacy
care and a powerful new connection to health and wellness in retail communities.
This looks like a great way for retailers to expand their presence in the fast-growing
health and wellness market.

You can learn more about the HealthSmart Rx program in this month’s issue
of the Willard Bishop Consulting monthly newsletter, Competitive Edge,
available at:

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the
HealthSmart Rx program? Can it help retailers grow share in the health and wellness
Anderson – Moderator

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