Directly to the point: Drugstore chains are a wonderful, focused market opportunity for produce. Seventy percent of U.S. drugstores are operated by three chains: CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid, in that order.
Rite Aid and Walgreens — with its much-trumpeted downtown Chicago flagship — have already entered the grocery business and they’re toying with produce.
Drugstores and produce should have a fantastic marriage. We’re always claiming we want to be linked to healthy eating and healthy living, right? The very foundation of the drugstore is health and living longer, so let’s pitch ‘em on produce.
But we’ll have to package produce differently!
It’s a drugstore — they don’t have refrigerated storerooms, misting systems or produce clerks. Theirs is a different customer in a different setting. He or she is not going to buy three pounds of potatoes on this stop.
But the drugstore shopper might buy a cup of fresh-cut cucumber sticks, a potato-chip-sized bag of blueberries and some lettuce and tomatoes for dinner. After all, their prescription has just reminded them of their fragile health and the need to eat better.
Drugstores need small, bright, modern packages of produce delivered in downsized cases. Especially items that are smaller servings, have long shelf lives, are washed and ready-to-eat in packages that stand up or hang well in the case.
Yes, this will cost more — but a coalition of the willing is going to supply produce to the modern drugstore. To tune into this new sales channel you need to reinvent the package, presentation and other trappings of your already fabulous produce.
Pairing fresh produce with the modern drugstore — which will supplant Mini-Mart and Nick’s Fruit Market for fill-in food sales — allows both industries to claim the moral high ground and make money in the process.
Better news: Mom’s still around, but she can’t make me walk there.
Denise Donohue is founder of Donohue Associates, DeWitt, Mich., a marketing and public relations firm specializing in agriculture. Before that, she was director of the Michigan Apple Committee, Lansing.
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