Clinics Deal with ‘Yuck’ Factor
In-store medical clinics seem like a great business idea. Offer consumers a convenient and inexpensive solution to basic health needs in an easy-to-get-to location.
So what’s the problem? Why are some clinics closing and others slowing the pace of new location openings?
Raleigh Werner, a 19-year old Colby College student described the problem, as he saw it, to MSNBC in a single word, “Yuck.”
Just as many, at one point in time, couldn’t understand buying groceries in the same warehouse where you purchase car tires, some today are questioning why they would shop at stores they know are being frequented by sick people.
“I just don’t know about mixing those two environments in the same place,” Mr. Werner said.
Tom Charland, a former executive with MinuteClinic and the current CEO of the consultancy Merchant Medicine, believes that consumers will need to adjust to the concept of a health clinic inside retail stores.
“I think this is a long-term process. The idea that within a year they’ll be profitable and people will be flocking to them is a fallacy,” he said.
Chip Phillips, president of MinuteClinic, believes that the problem is more about consumers being aware of clinic locations and services than any “yuck” factor.
“There remains an industry problem associated with broad awareness of the availability,” he told MSNBC. “But once you have a trial use by the consumer of this service, there is very high customer satisfaction.”
Walmart is one of the chains that remains committed to in-store clinics. A spokesperson for the chain, Christi Gallagher, said, “We see clinics as an emerging industry, and we expect to see continued changes and evolution in that space, but I can tell you that we are excited about the strong interest that we are getting from hospitals and health care systems.”
Discussion Questions: How big is the ‘yuck’ factor in keeping people from trying in-store clinics? What other significant factors are getting in the way of clinic success in retail stores? How will the economic downturn influence the acceptance of clinics?