Obesity lays out a smorgasbord of opportunity

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Drug store real estate executives should take note: Today, 1-in-3 Americans are over their ideal weight; in 20 years, that number will be 1-in-every-2. So the time to stake what-will-become-prime time real-estate opposite every Wendy's, McDonald's, Burger King, or just about any burger joint that asks "would you like our sure-to-leave-you-bloated fries with that?," is now. Obesity equals opportunity.

(THE NEWS: Obesity rate in the United States to rise by more than 65%. For the full story, click here)

For those interior real estate executives, otherwise known as category managers, that doesn't necessarily mean blowing out diet aids or even synergistic categories to diet aids. Because the sale of diet aids is faddish. What's popular one bikini season will be merchandised in the clearance bin before the year is out. Remember the low-carb meal replacement sets? Many retailers rose that low-carb wave some years ago by exploding their 4-ft. bar and ready-to-drink shake merchandisers out into sets as long as 24 linear ft. And many of those retailers ended up taking a bath on those super-extended sets when the obese stopped buying.

But obesity is a medical condition that can help tie the back-bench to the front-end in so many different ways. That's because obese people are more prone to diabetes; they're more prone to heart disease; and they're more prone to bone/joint issues — the body's just not designed to carry that much extra weight on the frame over the course of decades. And the fact that there are more obese people at a younger age (just Google "teenage obesity epidemic") means those more-complex disease states will begin shifting the target disease-state demographics younger. Indeed, it already has. 

That lays out a literal smorgasbord of opportunity for savvy retailers who are just as keen on suggestive selling health as fast food chains are on rounding out that burger meal with an order of fries. To be sure, many retailers are already taking advantage, as evidenced by supermarket walk-throughs led by a pharmacist and/or nutritionist, or the number of drug stores boasting pharmacists who double as certified diabetes educators. But be prepared. It won't be too long before there'll be a need to blow out the sets containing the blood pressure monitors, heart-health and joint-health supplements, the external analgesic rubs and braces and the durable medical equipment offerings. And those sets won't be subject to the whims of a fad. Those sets will serve the now 1-in-3 and tomorrow's 1-in-2 patient population in need.

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