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Op-ed: Imagining a new retail reality in a post-craving world

The strategy director of Household imagines a world where Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro could potentially redefine the entire landscape of temptation.

Op-ed: Imagining a new retail reality in a post-craving world
[Source photo: Mongkol Akarasirithada/iStock/Getty Images Plus]

I relate to TV murderers who wake up clueless holding a weapon. This is exactly what happens to me when I eat Cheetos.

This personal battle with synthetic flamin’-hot pleasure is not unique to me. Humans have always lost the war against alluring substances.

In the wilderness of indulgence, a new player emerges that could change the game: Semaglutide (although it’s more commonly known as Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro).

Originally developed for Type-2 diabetes, Semaglutide helps people lose weight by reducing appetite and slowing down food digestion, making them feel fuller for longer. But more than just redefining the weight loss industry, the broader implications could potentially redefine the entire landscape of temptation.

Morgan Stanley estimates that 24 million Americans may use Semaglutide within a decade. Although only a tiny fraction of Americans are using the drug, it’s the fraction that drives massive trends: Walmart food sales already suggest a Semaglutide-driven shift in the food economy. 

However, the effects could be even more radical than curbing the munchies. The Washington Post reports the drugs could even suppress addictive behaviors of all kinds from drinking to gambling.

Let’s imagine a world where a drug could not only curb my Cheetos compulsion, they could also prevent me from regrettable cocktails, cigarettes, or credit card debt. It would be a post-craving world.


Arming ourselves with the tools to resist gimmicks could shift our desires from fleeting pleasures to essential needs. This has the potential to radically shift the fabric of reality, and by that I mean shopping.

These profound health impacts may seem disparate from our everyday retail experiences, but what if they could be the first visible impacts of a gimmick-proof populus?

The rise of e-commerce and the pandemic prompted an existential crisis for brick-and-mortar retailers. This shifting landscape provides a vacuum of opportunity, which is starting to be filled by entertainment and leisure.

Ozempic’s popularity could steer retail toward an experiential model based on designing for our best selves, not our worst. One could predict a Goopified future of Pilates and kale, but if we eventually overcome the temptation for cheap thrills, would we turn to more substantive pastimes? Physical nourishment is obvious, but could we engineer our world for quality connection? Innovation? Relaxation?

This shift could also foster a new kind of community centring around improving quality of life. It’s not far-fetched to imagine downtown areas becoming synonymous with health-focused services and businesses, transforming the urban experience and altering foot traffic patterns.


This new reality is, of course, speculation, but we could start to see foreshadowing. Could the H&M and Hermès gyms be a harbinger of a post-temptation world? Perhaps such stunts could go from hyper-stylized pop-ups for influencers to a plausible strategy for brands to encourage engagement.

There’s nothing my basic soul would love more than simplified but beautiful healthy options readily available on every street (think Dirty Lemon circa 2018, but financially solvent this time).

Perhaps the post-COVID Members Club craze kicks off an opportunity for brands to get good at creating spaces that cultivate connection, responding to the pandemic of loneliness at the heart of our culture.

Could Semaglutide even be the savior of the local book shop? When neon-lit bars, casinos, and junk food lose their appeal, might we be tempted to crack open a book again?


Of course, it would be a huge oversight to assume that practitioners of the dark arts of behavioral science will just call it a day. Perhaps we’ll see a whole new branch of experiential marketing launch around the sensory hacks that will work specifically for those on Semaglutide.

In the corners of my deep dark marketeer soul, I wonder if this wouldn’t be for the best? Oscar Wilde famously said, “I can resist everything but temptation.” If Wilde was still alive, how boring and bleak would a world be where he could, in fact, resist everything? It’s a world we might not want to imagine.

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