Thursday, January 18, 2018

Walmart Against Opioids

Walmart Against Opioids
Written by: Jaden Davantes

As retail stores start to lose customers to much more convenient online stores, retail giants like Walmart are struggling to differentiate their products and compete over diminishing demand.  In order to keep customers coming in the doors, stores like Walmart and Target have began implementing things like grocery stores and pharmacies into their stores in order to make shopping at their stores as efficient as possible.  Now, Walmart is going a step further to differentiate their products by incentivizing shoppers to visit the Walmart pharmacy and taking advantage of one of the determinants of demand: changes in tastes and expectations.

 Walmart is offering a free way to get rid of your extra opioids.  A product called DisposeRX can be used to turn pills into biodegradable gel, giving patients an easy way to get rid of pills that could potentially be dangerous.  While opioids are great as prescription medication, if they fall into the wrong hands they can become very dangerous.  According to Senator John Boozman, a third of all medications never end up being used, and according to cdc.gov there were over 42,000 opioid related deaths in 2016, with 40% of these deaths being prescription related.  Walmart offering an opioid disposal method brings even more attention to these problems; when potential customers see that Walmart is offering this new, state of the art method to dispose of your old prescription medication, they’re more likely to look into why they would want this in the first place.  All in all this results in change in the tastes or preference of consumers as Walmart not only brings more light to the opioid crisis, but also offers an easy and convenient solution.  As the first large store to offer this option, Walmart can use this new feature to differentiate their products.

Walmart is an oligopoly, only competing with other superstores like Target Costco and Meijer, so it’s important for them to differentiate their products as much as possible.  As stores that pride themselves on discounts and low prices, Walmart cannot set itself apart based on its brand name, so instead they’re taking steps to make their other features, like their pharmacy stand out.  By bringing attention to a huge problem and then subsequently offering a free and accessible solution, Walmart is offering huge incentives to use their pharmacy over others.  Moving ahead, it’s likely that Walmart’s competitors will also adopt features similar to this, to a point where consumer tastes change so that features such as opioid disposal are not a specialty, but an expectation, but for now, Walmart can take advantage of it to gain a foot up on its competitors.

Works Cited
Han, Courtney. “Walmart Distributing First-of-Its-Kind Opioid Disposal Product.” ABC News, ABC News Network, abcnews.go.com/US/walmart-distributing-kind-opioid-disposal-product/story?id=52399156.\

“Opioid Overdose.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Oct. 2017, www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/index.html.
www.cnbc.com/2018/01/16/walmart-offers-free-opioid-disposal-product.html..

19 comments:

  1. An idea like this is a wonderful way to introduce customer goodwill for a company that usually isn't the most popular. But is a move like this viable long-term in an economic sense? Because as public tastes are shifting AWAY from opiates, will another form of controlled substance move in to take its' place, or will other companies move in as well to take away from Wal-Mart's dominant market share?

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  2. I'm not sure that I see the connection between Walmart's new service and a differentiation of goods. By providing the service Walmart may get somebody into the store that might not have come in, but for other customers this would not change their taste for other goods. It is definitely a good thing that Walmart is implementing this new service, but I don't see a large connection between this and an increase in demand.

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    1. I agree. Having this service wouldn't actually change what customers buy, and people would most likely dispose of opioids only when they come in to shop at Walmart.

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  3. It's interesting that Walmart's new opioid disposal is free for its consumers; clearly, Walmart is aware that the disposal offers positive externalities and will help to gain positive publicity as well. I am curious to know how much cost Walmart is absorbing in order to provide the service.

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  4. I think this is an interesting topic as the opiod crisis has become severe lately and is making national headlines. Since Walmart operates in an oligopoly market, I wonder if other similar competitors like Costco, Target and Meijer will actually create areas within their businesses too for customers to dispose of their pills. If customers need a place to drop off old prescriptions and have to come into Walmart to do so, they will also be more likely to purchase other items while they're in the store, eventually benefiting both society (fewer access to pills) and Walmart as well (increased shoppers coming in to drop off prescriptions).

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  5. I think it was really interesting how you looked at something a little different then just a good in the market. Instead you looked at a factor of demand. It is important to remember that there are a ton of influences outside of just the good that is being produced. For example, a restaurant could have amazing, three Michelin star food, but if it is served in a dirty, smelly restaurant, demand would not be as high. I think that Walmart's decision was not only a positive influence on their own store, but it could also be considered a positive externality. It would be very interesting if you included how it will benefit society as a whole.

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  6. I really like this topic and how it pertains to more than just a normal good in a market. At first economics may seem fairly simple but the more you look into it, and analyze it you start to realize how much goes into economics. You looked at a factor of demand. These can be important when analyzing how a curve shifts as well as who you are going to run your business. If you see a factor of demand happens in your industry and it increases demand this tells you you should probably product more to maximize profits. When we are learning economics in class it is important to realize it pertains to life as well as what we are being asked to do in the classroom.

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  7. It's helpful you considered other relations between market and different types of goods. Also, taking into consideration the shift of demand and how it relates and the value of the importance; quality. If people aren't satisfied evenly then the demand will decrease in accordance with the quality.

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  8. It makes sense for Walmart to make themselves stand out, with increased online stores that will deliver to the front door, and an increase of stores such as Meijer and Costco. With Walmart coming up with a smart solution to ridding ourselves of extra opioids, it makes sense that consumers would take a trip to Walmart, and then stock up on other goods in the store. Despite this fact, I’m not sure that this addition to the pharmacy will change the taste or expectations of consumers. People will usually go to Walmart if that’s where they want to go, and not based on its perspective and alteration to the ever increasing opioid crisis.

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  9. It is very interesting that Walmart is looking toward Opioid disposal as a way to differentiate itself from the crowd. But, other pharmaceutical competitors such as Walgreens recently added safe medication disposal kiosks, so it may be difficult to be one step ahead of other pharmaceutical locations. This is a positive outlook for the future though, as now medication and opioid disposal will more likely become an expectation in the future.

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  10. Walmart creating a place to dispose of dangerous prescriptions like opiods is a great thing for people. However, is the sole reason behind Walmart creating a place to dispose of the dangerous drugs because they only want to draw in more customers, or because they are actually concerned with the statistics of opioid overdoses? I think that either reason is viable but to me it seems more that Walmart is only interested in itself and their sales than their customers. Creating a place to dispose of dangerous prescriptions will most likely not catch on to other superstores until Walmart’s progress is positive and the customers are happy, only then will other super stores like Target and Costco follow in their footsteps.

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  11. Walmart just came up with a brilliant idea to help in the crisis that is addiction. Walmart is offering a free way to get rid of your extra opioids. A product called DisposeRX can be used to turn pills into biodegradable gel, giving patients an easy way to get rid of pills that could potentially be dangerous. By doing this Walmart has open people’s eyes to the fact that all of these leftover pills you have laying around could be very harmful to anyone who takes a peek at it. I have personally seen the effects of misuse of prescription pills. This is not a pretty sight. More and more overdose cases happen every year and it seems to be catching more and more victims. What Walmart is doing is something that I believe should be implemented into every major pharmacy and convenience store.

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  12. I disagree in thinking that people will go to Walmart to dispose of their opioids. I think that this will not attract more customers because they will dispose of their opioids in a more convenient way like throwing them away at home or flushing them down the toilet. This is a much quicker and cheaper way than having to drive to Walmart and waist gas and spend money on getting rid of your opioids. Although I do agree that this will set Walmart above all the others for their pharmacies this will soon be over most other stores will be adding this as quickly as possible so that they are not set behind.

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  13. I understand how offering this service might get someone in the door that would not have come into Walmart. However, I do not see how offering this will make their products stand out. It might get people in the door, but not everyone needs this service and just because they are in the door doesn’t mean they are going to change their want for a specific brand. It was stated that “Walmart is offering huge incentives to use their pharmacy over other”, what are those incentives? It is a good thing that Walmart is offering this service, however the idea of getting right of opioids might not be enough to get people to start using the Walmart pharmacy.

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  14. This topic is a very interesting debate to talk about and is very controversial, but I enjoyed reading both viewpoints of the public and the solution they came up with. I thought it was interesting how you gave examples of 3 other competitors that Walmart has and compare them to how they being proactive in finding a solution that is convenient for the public, easily accessible, and is a real solution. I agree that the public should be responsible for turning in unused prescription medication and that this solution that is going to work. This is going to help because in the past few months the opioid epidemic has been growing and growing to an unsafe level that is causing harm to many adults and teenagers and many people want a viable solution to this epidemic.

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  15. I think this is a smart move by Walmart. It will have effects on who goes to Walmart at first but after a while sales will go back to normal and possibly even increase. This is because people like parents might see that this problems has been resolved and now it is a safer environment for their families.

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  16. This is an excellent way of Walmart elevating and differentiating their brand from its competitors. For the discerning people who would like to rid their cabinets of dangerous prescription drugs they can conveniently go to Walmart and do so. This adds to the holistic view of Walmart and they are slowly turning themselves in to a conglomerate one stop shop with everything you need. Taking the most demanded products and services in the market, that normally are sold in separate stores, and putting them in a one stop shop is a brilliant way to entice consumers to shop there. Instead of spending an entire day shopping for things around town, they can stop at one place and find all of their necessities.

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  17. Walmart taking part in the opioid crisis is extremely interesting. The company is “killing two birds with one stone” by increasing their sales and helping to stop a national crisis. By having dispensaries in their stores, people will be more inclined to do the right thing by properly getting rid of unused prescription medications. While in the store, if a person needs something, they can save themselves the gas driving to an actual grocery store and get their items from Walmart. Although I do think their sales will go up, I don’t think that their products will be separated from competing businesses.

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  18. I think this is a game changing move for Walmart. Their sales might decrease for a little bit but will go back to normal and maybe increase. If people start to see THE safer environment Walmart is creating, they will love to go and shop from a place that creates such a big impact on the community.

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