You, the independent natural products retailer, are used to helping older shoppers address chronic health issues of aging. But today, younger generations—millennials, ages 25 to 39; and Gen Z, young adults just reaching their 20s—are rethinking their views on health and wellness as they suffer prematurely from chronic stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue.

It’s easy to see why. Millennials are delaying marriage and family due to crushing college debt, and Gen Z felt their parents’ profound insecurity during the Great Recession, as the global banking system seized up a decade ago.

Smart independents will recognize these generational quirks—much as the annual flu season sends droves of shoppers into your store—as an opportunity.

But here’s the thing. Many independents have become lazy, allowing the brands they sell to drive the marketing message to their customers. It’s as if you’ve let your store become a platform—like an Internet web page—for brands to get their marketing messages directly to your shoppers.

It is certainly easier to let third parties do your marketing for you, but if you persist in the Age of Amazon, you should not be surprised when your customers continue following your brands right out your door, to wherever they can find them.

A Message of Your OwnLook: It’s not as if you don’t have weapons in this war. You are good—very good—at certain things. You know how to help people ease stress, gain energy, get better digestion. Your job now is to talkabout your unique skills. Fashionyour ownmarketing message. Yes, it takes time. And thought. But you can do it.

Start with a pencil and paper. Jot down what your customers tell you they like about your store, every day, for two weeks. Begin keeping track of the positive health outcomes you’ve created. These are the gold nuggets of your marketing message.

If you feel shy about putting your skills into words, ask someone you trust to help you. Heck, even call up a local advertising agency to do some brainstorming with you. Because you’ve already assembled the raw material, you should be able to buy a couple of hours of professional attention to create your basic marketing message with real impact. Are you going to tell me you won’t spend a few hundred dollars to do this?

Okay. In the Age of Amazon, the time has passed when independent natural products retailers can be passive. You had confidence enough in your abilities to open your store in the first place. Now it is time toStand and Deliver. The 1988 film’s protagonist, a Los Angeles high school math teacher, under pressure to control his raucous classroom, decides to teach his students higher math. After intense study, they ace the California calculus test, only to have to retake the test because no one believed it. Which they did, and passed again. So can you.JJ