Food and Drugstores: A Good Rx for Success?
The two major traffic draws at many drugstore chains right now are flu shots and food. Strange bedfellows? Or the secret to drugstore survival? The jury is out.
In the early days of drugstores, a fountain and a counter were a big part of the business. In particular, Walgreens and Longs were known for their food and fountain offerings. Those fountains went away in the last two decades. Ten years ago, chains such as CVS and Walgreens beefed up convenience foods and installed coolers for milk and other last-minute items. At that time, drugstore chains were challenging convenience stores, and some industry experts thought that resulted in drug retailers taking their eyes off their most important franchise — the pharmacy.
Fast-forward to present day and food is taking center stage again, perhaps an outgrowth of the recession, reasons industry expert Allan Mottus. The prepackaged sushi and sandwiches at the local Duane Reade or Walgreens offer a quick and cheap lunch.
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This time, drugstore retailers aren’t giving up the health image. They are trying to boost it with mini-clinics and services such as flu shots. Can the two exist? So far, the efforts do appear to be working. Flu shots bring people in who then buy other items. The food is also a big lure that helps get shoppers to the rest of the store.
Where does beauty fit into the food and pharmacy emphasis? Quite nicely, drugstore executives say. Instead of going to a department store for a new mascara, a shopper might buy one while getting a sandwich. While waiting for a flu shot, a customer might also buy a new fragrance. Duane Reade has seen this in action in its new store format. The health clinic is often near beauty and there is cross-shopping. Also, the blurring of beauty and health means there is synergy between cosmetics and pharmacy. This is especially the case in skin care, where some firms such as La Roche-Posay sometimes launch new items at the Rx counter. Many firms continue to launch beauty-from-within products, such as supplements, that also merge the concept of pharmacy and beauty. Pharmacists are being trained to answer questions about beauty regimens.
Food is also linking into beauty as more drinks or edible products become important for overall beauty. Duane Reade has coolers for Borba water. Drugstores have long struggled with methods to make their stores meaningful at a time when pharmacies are also in food chains and discount stores. The potent combination of easy access foods and health services is the path most are following now. Beauty firms could benefit from looking for ways to follow this road too.
People, Places and Things
A few words from Mark Griffin, owner, chief executive officer and president of Lewis Drug, about a new store the chain just opened in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Griffin: “The timing is still good because it is open in time for Black Friday. But we also expect it to serve convenience needs such as a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk. We have a large health and beauty department to keep up with our competition. I think this is a bit of a leap of faith, but by the same token, I think we’re gradually growing out of this recession we’ve been through. Spirits are up. We’re seeing people shopping more, seeing more traffic. I think it’s a good time.”
What’s In Store
Walgreens Offers Online and Print Gift Guide: Walgreens is mailing a holiday shopping guide featuring fragrance gift sets as well as some “not your typical” holiday items such as a Dove four-piece gift set. The chain is also hosting special beauty promotions on Saturdays to spur holiday sales.
Target Improves Hair Accessories: Target teamed up with Goody for a new Statements collection. The goal is to offer boutique-inspired hair accessories, such as tortoise clips, priced under $7 in a mass setting.