I was lucky enough to visit Barcelona for a weekend break in June. Whilst there, I discovered my smallest new store concept of the year with a great retail design – Happy Pills.
Happy Pills is a ‘pick and mix’ sweet shop with a difference, and is nothing like I’ve seen before.
The design concept has been based on recreating an authentic pharmacy look. Shop fittings resemble the same fixtures you would expect to see in any high-street pharmacy. Even the service area has a pharmacy look with drawers, filled with packets and bottles, as you would expect to find in a dispensary.
The appearance of the staff completes the look with assistants decked out in white tunics, wearing simple name badges that bear the company’s signature pink cross logo design.
The shop itself is tiny, being only wide enough to allow two people into the corridor-like layout at a time. This is an interesting technique as it limits how many people can enter the store, and similarly the potential loss of stock that can come from such desirable products. School kids beware: the ‘only two people in the store at one time’ policy applies here – just by the limited space!
Instore it’s just like a pharmacy, with the products sold in simply designed, plain, empty bottles. Customers pick up their chosen size of bottle and fill it with a selection of items. To complete the purchase, customers attach a sticky label from one of a number of pre-printed messages, which range from ‘bad hair day’ and ‘wake up!’ to ‘feel good’ suggestions, to give the product the finished look. Finally, the filled bottles are put into a plain white bag and sealed with a sticky label with a Happy Pills logo on the outside.
What’s interesting is how all of the best practices and methods used to present a pharmacy shopping experience in have been directly applied to products in another category, i.e. confectionary.
The only negative aspect is that I am a little worried the packaging design looks so authentic that the products (sweets) could be easily mistaken as actual medicines! I would suggest a cautionary note to designers, to think carefully about the potential consequences when coming up with new concepts, and to act responsibly.
However, having said this, I was impressed with Happy Pills. It a great idea with a fantastic self-select approach, efficient till point service, and the constantly busy store (mostly women) created a real buzz about the place!
It’s surprising how, even with a very small product, you can come up with such a great concept. Imagination had gone into this design and the execution was seamless. Happy Pills is for people who are looking for a fix that is non-medical, but fruity, sugary and minty instead. They also get a great retail design experience at the same time.