I’m not sure how many people take the time to look around a store when they go in, or whether we’re all so busy now that we just go in, buy what’s on our list, try not to make idle chatter with the cashier (or better yet, use the self checkout!), and get on with our day. I’m guessing not very many of us.
I was in Shopper’s Drug Mart today and took the time to look around and take it all in. The first thing I noticed was how un-beautiful I must be, given how many products they were selling to make my skin look better and make me more attractive.
Then I wandered to the back of the store and found the health foods and vitamins. Protein powders and bars, acai berry everything, weight loss products…an interesting array of heavily processed and packaged “healthy” stuff. Oh yeah, and Red Bull.
Next up was the pharmacy. Pretty straightforward really, with most of the marketing material geared towards, interestingly enough, diabetics such as myself.
Just past the pharmacy, and all that “take control of diabetes!” information was, you guessed it, diabetes central. Row upon row of ice cream, soda, candy, chips. Yeah, take control alright. Just don’t pass up these really high margin retail items that make our shareholders giddy and the insulin manufacturers laugh all the way to the bank.
Of course, one could argue that this drug store (and many like it) are simply giving customers what they want. They’ll argue that if they don’t sell it to them, someone else will. They’ll give the standard argument of free will, and not limiting people’s choices. All well and good. With that logic, a lot of the world suddenly makes sense. And I think that maybe we’re missing out on a pretty big opportunity, those of us in the addiction treatment business. Maybe it’s time to revisit the business model. Maybe the trick is to provide the solution, whilst supplying the problem. And if we can make people feel unattractive and overweight while we’re doing it….
Which brings me to my main point. Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because it profits a shareholder, or boosts the bottom line, doesn’t mean it’s moral. And just because you can sell it, doesn’t mean you should.
And just because it’s ironic, doesn’t mean it’s funny.