Walmart will be a major emerging market health care provider

For its more than 8000 stores in 15 countries around the world, Walmart (WMT, quote) is increasing its offerings in the health care sector with more vaccination shots.  

Image courtesy Einar Fredrikson: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wild_speedy/

A giant underground Walmart in Guiyang, China, accessed via glass pyramids

These are starting with stores in the United States, where Walmart already offers some vaccines. The plans are to increase the number of vaccines now available at Walmart stores in the United States to ten.

Walmart has health clinics in 150 stores, and has been gradually expanding its products and services in the health care arena. Its $4 generic drug special has been very well received. Obviously the current vaccine program the company offers has been successful or it would not be expanding the service. 

There are many other goods and services Walmart offers emerging market consumers in the provision of health care. Over-the counter drugs are obvious. Vitamins, supplements, tooth paste, and other items that can be purchased without a doctor’s prescriptions are other health care products.

Legendary investor Warren Buffett just reduced his position in Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, quote), a major drug and health care concern, by two-thirds. Over the same period, he beefed up his holdings in Walmart. A factor contributing to this is the growth in consumer demand around the world for cheaper generic goods.  That is certainly Walmart’s strength.

Walmart is well positioned to capture the growth in consumer spending in emerging markets. By 2025, this is expected to amount to $30 trillion according to global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Not only will that be about half the world’s consumer spending, much of it will be for health care goods and services as the more affluent a society becomes, the more it spends on health care needs.

As Walmart expands its health care goods and services, it will become more of a “one stop” shopping destination. That is why the world’s largest retailer started selling groceries in 1988. With the middle class in emerging markets expanding, so is consumer spending on healthcare, with much of it happening at Walmart.