PALM DESERT, Calif. -- Three major supermarket chains are installing 400-square-foot health information centers as part of their pharmacy offerings, SN was told during the General Merchandise Distributors Council's Health and Beauty Care Marketing Conference here last week.
Hy-Vee, West Des Moines, Iowa, installed three of the centers from HealthSmart Rx, Chicago, last month, said Raymond Stone, director of HealthSmart Rx, which was developed by the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy.
Within the next month, Giant Food, Landover, Md., will install six of the centers, and Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., Quincy, Mass., will put in two, Stone said. Three independent drug stores -- McKesson Valu-Rites -- in the Chicago area also will get the centers, he said.
"It's a great way for pharmacy and HBC to tie in together," said John Fegan, vice president, pharmacy, Ahold USA, Chantilly, Va., parent company of Giant Food and Stop & Shop. "Today's consumers want a lot of information and want the ability to obtain some of it themselves, while also using a health professional."
Hy-Vee executives did not respond to calls for comment.
"This is a pilot program. However, the current high interest from the retailers indicates further expansion for the program," Stone said.
"We plan to have 20 stores operating by the end of the year, and next year we plan to add 40, with the potential of adding 80," he said.
Designed for placement adjacent to a pharmacy, the HealthSmart Rx area includes a health information kiosk; a plasma video screen that broadcasts health content and product advertising; a blood pressure/body mass index machine; books on disease states, wellness planning, exercise, diet and nutrition; and a rack of U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved brochures, Stone said.
Additionally, the centers will offer health screenings for cholesterol, bone density and other conditions, and will dispense advice from trained health professionals affiliated with the store pharmacy, he said. A "Learning Lab" will conduct research to provide retailers and manufacturers with insights into health-oriented shopping behavior.
"HealthSmart Rx is creating a health-related destination to draw consumers back to the store on a regular basis to track their health and wellness, to find solutions to their health needs, and to purchase all of the health-related items that they need," said Jon Hauptman, vice president, Willard Bishop Consulting, Barrington, Ill.
"The retailer is looking for a way to brand their health offerings to their consumers, which is the advantage of this program," Stone said.
For now, the program is only being targeted at supermarkets, Stone said, with the exception of the few independent drug stores already in the program. "We are not going to do any drug chains. We are not going to do any mass merchants at this time," he said.
It's a matter of taking advantage of the whole-health factors available in the grocery environment. "The supermarket has the pharmacy, the HBC, the food and other nutritional aspects, and most of the stores we will be in will have dietitians who will assist the consumer in all of the programs," Stone said.
"HealthSmart Rx effectively satisfies two of the hottest industry trends at the same time," Hauptman said. "The first is a focus on in-store marketing. The store is emerging as an effective marketing platform for consumer packaged goods manufacturers to connect with customers and to deliver brand messages, and to drive sales."
Also, consumers are demanding unique shopping experiences, he said. "So retailers are leveraging their store as a marketing platform to give their consumer something new and fresh and exciting." Another key trend is a focus on consultative health-related services, Hauptman said.