The Total Wellness Ecosystem at Retail 2015

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carl jorgensen

As consumers place more importance on health and wellness globally in 2015 and beyond, they will increasingly look to their favorite retailers as important partners in their quest for better living.   

Consumers are approaching wellness from three primary directions, all of which will affect their lifestyle choices and shopping behaviors. These are avoidance, favoring and habit change.

Avoidance means avoiding negative product attributes such as pesticides and other chemicals, artificial colors and flavors, unnecessary preservatives, growth hormones, GMOs, antibiotics, and gluten or other allergens.

Favoring means actively seeking positive product attributes such as organic, local, flavorful, more nutritious, sustainable, environmentally safe, fairly traded, or “good for my children.”

Habit Change means changing thinking and behavior (lifestyle) through exercise, eating better, reducing stress, not smoking and taking better advantage of the vast menu of wellness programs in the marketplace today.

Understanding consumer expectations in each of these key areas before they enter the store is the best way for retailers to successfully earn their long-term trust and business.  

More Convenient Wellness Resources

Larger stores can make wellness easier to access by offering convenient point-of-care solutions such as in-store retail clinic services, customer-accessible pharmacists, and enhanced and continuing care services for chronic or age-related disorders. 

Playing a more interactive role, however, can also work effectively for both large and small retailers willing to offer products and services to support their customers’ personal wellness lifestyles.  Daily engagement offerings like nutritional and dietary management programs, seasonal recipes, shopping lists, cooking classes and curated product assortments are a few examples of the ways retailers can position themselves as reliable sources for better living options.

Product assortment examples include:

  • Creating a Superfoods fresh program featuring information and serving suggestions for watercress, Chinese cabbage, chard, beet greens, spinach, chicory, leaf lettuce, parsley, Romaine lettuce, collard greens, etc.
  • Offering nutrient-dense snacking ideas around new and existing product pairings
  • Developing a whole-food supplements program
  • Explaining the benefits of a probiotics/prebiotics program, particularly during cold and flu season
  • Offering food-quality personal care products, such as Skin Food, and the Nourish Skin Care line currently sold at Whole Foods

The assortment possibilities are endless, and can be used to reflect retailer knowledge of what their core customers want and need.   However, a successful wellness ecosystem requires the integration of services, information and product solutions so a retailer can truly be engaged and effective.  With digital influences proliferating, innovation investments such as providing wellness-focused mobile apps and website integration with tele-health services will help build the wellness partnership.

Transparency – the price of entry

Today retailers are under the microscope. Consumers are armed with more information than ever before, fueled by digital technology and the rise of social networks. With this knowledge they seek transparency from retailers around health, sustainability, and even pricing. Consumers want to know: What’s in it? Who made it? How was it made? Where does it come from? Transparency in answering these questions has emerged as the foundation of any authentic wellness partnership with customers.

This trend includes the “Free-From” approach to Wellness brands, encompassing clearly marked non-GMO product offerings, well-defined “does not contain” brand guardrails, and allergen-free product options, including gluten-free.

Real-world examples include Whole Foods’ in-store digital screens that provide customers with transparent access to information about producers and product certifications. Kroger provides farmer profile information in its produce departments.

Transparency also means simplicity, making sense of the often bewildering welter of health and sustainability claims for consumers.  Be a resource for consumers with questions by training and providing knowledgeable staff that can help shoppers take their first steps with wellness offerings.

To ensure that customers remain trusted partners, retailers must approach every product, service and merchandising communication through the lens of wellness.  Show that you understand their wellness journey, and have the products and services to support them every step of the way.

As consumers focus more and more on wellness, several new trends arise that natural retailers should be aware of.About the Author: Carl Jorgensen is the Director of Global Consumer Strategy-Wellness at Daymon Worldwide and former president of Global Organic Certification services, a USDA-accredited organic certification agency.

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