US consumer trends in health and wellness

09.26.2018 | By Mark Speyers

Health conscious consumers in the US are increasingly concerned with the quality and health benefits associated with the products they purchase and consume. According to our research at SymphonyAI, today, health-conscious customers account from 25-30% of all grocery customer in the US and Europe. But this trend of the health-conscious consumer is taking a new form. It now extends beyond retailers simply providing healthy products into a growing ethos of health-conscious retailing where retail chains are making important decisions to reinforce their health-conscious focus. These decisions – in some cases significantly impacting revenue streams – are making indelible impressions on the consumer, illustrating that big business can forego profit to do the right thing for the customer.

Health-Conscious Retail - Read the paper

Health-conscious retailing is more than just offering healthy choices

Take the well-known example of CVS Caremark’s cessation of selling tobacco at CVS pharmacy locations. This health-minded corporate move immediately added health-conscious credibility to CVS – setting them apart in their space. And they’re not alone. Other retailers are following suit in their own ways.

Hy-Vee, the US midwestern grocery retailer, offers dieticians to its customers in each of its stores. Giant Eagle also offers dietician services. Nestle provides consumers another personalized approach to health by enabling them to provide blood and DNA samples so they can be tested for ailments such as diabetes or high cholesterol. Not only do these moves overtly show customers that retailers recognize that healthy options/advice/consultation are what they want, but it engenders a sense of trust, a broader social responsibility, a relationship far more lasting.

But there’s an interesting twist here. Perhaps all this “doing good” has actual financial benefits to the brand as well. In her article The Growth of Health-Conscious Retailing, Jennifer Overstreet notes that “Caroline Passerrello, corporate dietitian with Giant Eagle, said their customers spend five to seven percent more after meeting with a dietician. But what first began as an offering in a special health food section of the store is now integrated throughout the store.” When you think about it, it makes sense. If you’re educated about what goes into any product, take a high-end car for example, you understand it’s value. Maybe it’s the extensive RandD that led to its superior low-impact emissions or exceptional safety. Or maybe it’s where the raw materials are sourced and how they’re transported. Whatever the case, you know more and you’re likely willing to spend more for that product.

Local sourcing, commitment to community and a global view

I can’t recall the seller name, but I recently heard of a case where a California wine seller made the announcement that it would no longer import wines. The logic? There are plenty of world-class wines in state and it can support the local community, growers, transportation business etc. while reducing the costs and environmental impact of importing. Makes perfect sense. Shows a sense of a mission with soul.

It’s all-too-often about price, but it shouldn’t be

Too often, retailers get hung up on price. Don’t get me wrong – that matters. But the reality is that you can’t and shouldn’t always just have price in the crosshairs. The Walmarts of the world will “burn the furniture” to win on price. Whether its reducing use of plastic bags, reducing packaging to no more than 10% outside weight, adding solar, sourcing locally, health-conscious retailing offers many options to “do the right thing” for your customer and the planet, while developing a deeper connection with the customer and the communities in which they live. Differentiating beyond price is always more powerful – and more sustainable.

As consumers become more health-conscious, the opportunities to show leadership and differentiate your business will continue to come available. Leadership takes courage and commitment, but the results can be powerful.

Learn more about health-conscious retailing in our viewpoint paper, Health-Conscious Retailing: Challenges and opportunities with evolving customer health and wellness needs

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