My most recent post talked about how wellness could be the soul of the transformation of streetside retail. Several trends drive this shift:
- The disappearance of traditional stores from Main Streets across America.
- The forceful emergence of experiential retail as a way to get consumers into a physical store, often in concert with a compelling online buying experience.
- The drive in healthcare to bring treatment closer to customers and to involve consumers more directly in their own care.
- Breakthroughs in science that bring treatments once reserved for hospitals and clinics onto the wrists or screens of consumers or that bring the expansiveness of crowd-sourcing to care.
Today, these forces are expressed by pharmacies providing inoculations, housing mini-clinics; by retailers like Wal-Mart bringing mental health centers into the store; by walk-in clinics that include instant body scans tied to wearable sensor data; meditation pods in workout wear stores; blood pressure monitors in grocery stores; and dozens of other new experiences.
But I think what we are seeing today is just the tip of the wellness retail iceberg.
Within a few years, we will see the emergence of an entirely new kind of Main Street facility. I call it “the Biotanica”: the combination of biology and science with the spiritual, herbal and community aspects of traditional Hispanic botanicas.
Biotanicas will deliver care and comfort. They will dispense drugs alongside biome and natural treatments. They will provide space for VR experiences, meditation, and exercise. They will house primary care doctors, nutritionists, and mental health professionals. They will have some of the feel of a health club, some of a clinic, some of an Apple store, some of a gourmet grocery and some of an AA meeting.
Individuals will go to their biotanica to pick up personalized health products and treatments they purchased online. They’ll be able to buy next-gen food, in many cases formulated specifically for their needs. Many, if not most, of the basic medical treatment that now is in a clinic will move to biotanicas.
The centers will also have doctors – not only RNs and primary care physicians in-house, but also diagnosticians and specialists available via telehealth connections.
And, because of the range of activities housed in biotanicas and their deep importance to health and wellness, these facilities will become centers for community. They’ll house information sessions, counseling groups, bull sessions, meditation classes, nutrition and exercises classes.
Biotanicas will be the general stores of the 21st century. Decades from now, young people will find the assertion that Main Street was once totally dominated by stores stuffed with products, and medicine only occurred in sterile, scary, expensive clinics and hospitals, bizarre. Having all the elements of wellness available next door and at their fingertips will seem utterly natural and obvious to future generations.