Consumer Ailments = Retail Opportunities
By George Anderson
Targeting products to the health issues of consumers has opened up new business opportunities for food manufacturers and the retailers that sell their products.
An aging population with associated health problems, along with other factors such as obesity and diabetes that may have no age component, have caused an explosion of new products to hit the market. In some cases, repackaging on the part of manufacturers is used to identify items as appropriate for special dietary conditions.
Karen Merrill, a consumer from Barrington, N.H., had a heart attack and bypass surgery in 2002 and she appreciates when items that address her condition are pointed out to her.
Upon finding whole grain cereal on a “heart healthy” display in her supermarket, Ms. Merrill said, “I never would have known that this cereal existed if it wasn’t for that display. By coupling things like that, it introduces me to new things. Normally I would have been heading to the health food store to get it.”
Marketing foods as being good for a person’s health is nothing new as a report by the Associated Press points out, but it has become “increasingly sophisticated and ailment-specific” in recent years.
Hannaford Bros., according to the report, recently added gluten-free and dairy-free sections to all its stores and is considering rolling out additional sections that speak to specific conditions.
“It absolutely is a question of making a grocery store more user-friendly,” said Hannaford spokesperson Caren Epstein.
Moderator’s Comment: How will the increase in health conditions influence store layout, visual merchandising and other aspects of how the business
is run in the future? For example, will grocery stores need to dedicate more people to the sales floor to answer questions and offer other assistance to customers as the population
ages and more health issues arise?
One example of how stores are changing: We’ve gotten used to walking into many supermarkets and finding an in-store bank branch. In some places now, that
same space is being filled by walk-in medical clinics. –
George Anderson – Moderator