Creating metaphorical ‘concept cars’ is a way for drugstore brands to unleash their creativity and position themselves for the future, retail design veteran Joseph Bona advises.
Chain drug stores should position themselves for the future by experimenting with paradigm-busting store prototypes that rethink business-as-usual approaches, writes Joseph Bona, President of Branded Environments for brand agency CBX, in the April 27 edition of Chain Drug Review.
In the column, the retail design veteran likens creative store prototypes to the unimaginable concept cars unveiled every year at major auto shows. “By making a practice of radically rethinking their products, global carmakers have learned to unleash their creativity and position themselves for the future,” Bona observes. “Are chain drug stores doing the same?”
The point is to generate new ideas that could ultimately exert real influence years or decades down the line, regardless of how impractical those ideas might seem today, Bona explains. When it comes to the already lagging front of the store in particular, he writes, the industry might rethink the current, convenience-oriented model by focusing more narrowly on health and wellness in ways that bolster the retailer’s brand-promise.
“Drug stores are all about consumers taking better care of themselves,” Bona writes. “The ‘Drug Store of the Future’ could offer products that reflect a more elevated consciousness.”
For example, in the future, chain drug store staples like candy, high-sugar drinks, lawn chairs, Styrofoam coolers, low-end electronics and other space-clogging, commoditized products may be downplayed or eliminated altogether. Instead, the prototype could add healthy elements such as a preventive medicine clinic, an organic juice bar, a wide selection of artisanal waters, FitBit-style gizmos and even a pick-up area for farm-to-table produce, Bona writes. The store might also include a small community room for yoga classes, massages and other services.
In turn, shopper rewards programs might include free downloads of articles on nutrition or high-intensity fitness, or a digital recording of a stress-reducing guided meditation.
“Today, drugstores are full of merchandise that dilutes or even harms their brands, which is precisely why CVS kicked tobacco to the curb,” he notes. “If American society becomes increasingly focused on health and wellness, then why not try to bring about a future in which consumers strongly associate national drugstores with their health and wellness needs? Why cede this territory to the likes of Whole Foods, which could never achieve the geographic market penetration of a CVS or Walgreens?”
While “far-out” prototypes rarely go to market in full form, Bona writes in the conclusion to the piece, “they can and do lead to new ideas and incremental changes that, over time, translate into competitive advantages for chain drug retailers in the real world.”
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