Sell wellness storewide: GMDC

January 16, 2013

Make non-foods and foods part of a retail wellness platform that serves consumers’ changing lives and attitudes, says new report.

Health and wellness trump low prices for many households. To grow and harness this demand, retailers should hook consumers to enter the wellness path through “gateway categories.” Second, stores should lead people to commit to more wellness purchases through “bridge products.”  

So says the Global Market Development Center (GMDC) in two of its many consumer insights-based suggestions from its new white paper, Sell Wellness Across the Entire Store:  Opportunities to Monetize Better-For-You Health Beauty Wellness & General Merchandise.

This matters, GMDC says, because “stores that help transform customers from curious, to interested, to committed buyers of wellness products, raise their potential to ring up more wellness-first and price-secondary sales.” A reputation as a wellness solutions center can drive more trips, bigger baskets and fuller margins, states the report, which frames three years of consumer research (2009-2011) by The Hartman Group in a context for the changing ways people will shop as the decade progresses.

Three examples of retailers seeking a wellness image through products, services, expertise, messaging and caring support include: Hy-Vee gives biometric screenings that help qualify consumers for insurance premium discounts through their employers. Kroger plans to equip its 1,950 stores with self-use health screening kiosks, so customers can create personal health record accounts and access health information. Walgreens is rolling out its electronic health record network to nearly 8,000 stores.

 Gateway categories detailed in the report typically address a consumer’s life change such as childbirth or care of an elderly parent; they include OTCs, books and magazines, foods and beverages, and more. Bridge products are strategic stepping stones in assortments that help people escalate their wellness purchases, such as a perfume- and dye-free detergent someone might try before buying, if ever, a totally natural alternative. 

GMDC articulates many ways stores can improve their wellness environment and attain a market-leading image. A few of these include:  

  • Make it easy for wellness to be a seamless part of shopping trips.  
  • The biggest wellness opportunities relate to lifestyles rather than to acute medical conditions, so embrace a wide view of wellness when marketing.
  • Cultivate an e-presence, since the primary wellness audience is escalating its use of the Internet, social media and smartphones to find product information.
  • Keep current with changing attitudes towards categories, since wellness consumers think differently over time.

Pharmacy, a linchpin of retail wellness, wasn’t part of this report because GMDC is developing separate white papers on pharmacy in 2013.