Set Up Shop ... In a Hospital?

Last Updated Apr 22, 2009 2:59 PM EDT

The best place to set up a new retail location may be the last place you think of. The local hospital.

According to an Harvard Business Review survey quoted in the May issue, up to 70 percent of hospital visitors surveyed in Toronto develop emotional bonds with stores that serve hospitals, and are more likely to frequent those same stores at other locations.

What are hospital consumers looking for? Often mentioned were books, electronics, apparel, jewelry, hairdressers, banks, and groceries.

HBR's summary:

Floor space is admittedly a limitation, but administrators should reimagine their lobbies as valuable tools for pleasing the thousands of people who stream through every day, and retailers should focus on unlocking the business opportunity that hospitals offer.
  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.