Achieving differentiation in the wellness space

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Consumers are shifting from a reactive “health” culture to a proactive “wellness” culture. No longer are they entering pharmacies and drug stores simply to follow up on their doctor’s orders.

Now, armed with multiple sources of information — from online resources, friends and family — they’re entering the store looking for solutions to take control of and better their own health.

Carl Jorgensen_Daymon

Carl Jorgensen, Daymon

This shift in consumer attitudes presents an ideal opportunity for drug stores and pharmacies to create new and more personalized solutions for the self-aware shopper. In doing so, they can position themselves as integral partners in consumers’ wellness journeys.

One area many drug store retailers are already making headway in is dietary supplements. Instead of alphabetizing by vitamin or mineral, several leading retailers have begun to group their supplement aisles by solutions — with sections for digestive health, immunity and restful sleep, for example.

A similar approach could be taken with other products throughout the store. For example, instead of separating cold products by type and symptom (think holistic oils to help prevent colds in one aisle, cough medicine in another and tissues in yet a third), they could be shelved together to provide the full range of care from prevention through treatment all in one place.

Another positive trend we’re seeing in the supplement space is offering personalized guidance to consumers. At selected Rite Aid Corp. and Walgreens stores, for example, shoppers can use a digital kiosk or consult with an in-store wellness expert for recommendations on the best supplements for them based on their unique needs and wellness concerns.

Taking this to the next level, pharmacies and drug stores can work to further integrate more specialized wellness services into their stores. Several national chains have already added mini-clinics to offer care for common illnesses, but this could be expanded to include things like consultations with a dietitian, nutritionist or other wellness provider.

For pharmacies embedded within grocery stores, dietitians and nutritionists in particular could help bridge the gap between drug and food — recommending products throughout the store and helping shoppers build personalized shopping lists to support their wellness needs.

There are several other largely untapped areas of the drug store ripe with opportunity to innovate in the wellness space. One of the most immediately accessible opportunities is the beauty and body care space. Consumers are increasingly concerned about what’s in the products they’re putting on their skin. There is a greater realization that the skin is the largest organ in our body, and what we put on it goes into our bloodstream. As a result, many consumers are looking for more pure alternatives that are as close to nature as possible.

In particular, consumers are often drawn to products with edible ingredients like avocado and coconut oil, knowing that if it’s safe for them to eat, it’s safe for them to put on their bodies. Organic and sustainable products are also increasingly on shoppers’ go-to lists. Bringing in new lines — or even developing new private label offerings — of clean label cosmetics, shampoos, lotions and other beauty and body care items, and highlighting them as a feature in the store, would be an ideal way to capitalize on this trend.

The food and snack assortment offered at many drug retailers is another avenue for wellness promotion and innovation. Much in the way that CVS Health removed tobacco products from its stores in 2014, drug store retailers could replace front register displays filled with candy, chocolate and soda with a variety of better-for-you options. Fresh grab-and-go items like fruit, sandwiches and juice are popular offerings in many European drug stores — and support the proposition that drug retailers are partners in consumers’ efforts to better their health.

Taking the longer-term view, pharmacies and drug stores should also be looking for opportunities to break into the precision wellness and quantified health space. As consumer self-knowledge expands dramatically, sophisticated data-tracking tools, including smartphone apps and wearable devices, are becoming mainstream, enabling users to monitor their daily fitness, dietary and other lifestyle habits. Personalized DNA profiling is also becoming more affordable and more accessible, allowing consumers to have their DNA scanned for genetic markers of disease, dietary intolerance and more. Next-generation devices and services can now even suggest changes to optimize personal performance and manage chronic health conditions.

Drug store chains and pharmacies could explore teaming up with these types of product makers and service providers to present shoppers with optimized wellness recommendations based on the data collected. For example, they may be able to offer targeted supplement recommendations and other product suggestions based on exercise habits or biomarker test results. Personalized nutrition tips and even optimized medication recommendations could also be avenues to explore.

It’s true that making the move from a reactive, often symptom-driven approach to a more holistic, proactive wellness focus throughout the store will require a change in traditional thinking for many drug store chains and pharmacies. But overcoming this challenge is not impossible — and ultimately, it will be the key to keeping up with the changing consumer as wellness becomes the mainstream modern lifestyle.

Carl Jorgensen is director of thought leadership-wellness at Daymon. He can be contacted at



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