GHQ Cover Story 3/06: Whole Health Education
By George Anderson
Through special arrangement with Grocery Headquarters magazine, we present these opportunities to discuss the subjects of GHQ’s monthly cover
Grocery stores can be excused for feeling a little squeezed these days. With discounters taking
vitamin and supplement sales from them on one side and natural food stores grabbing a share with organic food offerings, traditional supermarkets are fighting a two-front battle
for a consumer population increasingly focused on health issues.
“We’re self-medicating, and self-medicating has gone beyond just taking Tylenol or drinking tea when you don’t feel well,” Scott Van Winkle, managing director of Canaccord Adams told Grocery Headquarters. “It’s gone even further into ‘I’m going to eat so I don’t get sick’ or ‘I know what to eat when I am sick.’ “
The increasing prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes are serving to make consumers sit up and take responsibility for their health issues. Seven percent of the population, according to the American Diabetic Association, has some form of diabetes.
Steve French, managing partner of the Natural Marketing Institute and RetailWire BrainTrust panelist, said consumer focus is the key to taking advantage of the whole health opportunity.
Those most concerned with whole health issues are identified by NMI as “well-beings”.
“Basically, they’re driven to health by a whole variety of different means and modalities, meaning foods, beverages, personal care, HBA products and so on,” he said of the group that NMI pegs at 23 percent of the general population.
“They have a strong preference for products that are natural and organic. They’re very much into environmental linkage, and they’re what we would call values-based opinion leaders. So they’re a very attractive group of consumers that influence others and are on trend with some products,” he added.
Those products, say experts, span across product categories requiring retailers to develop a holistic approach defined in their marketing and merchandising strategies and tactics.
Bill Bishop, president of Willard Bishop Consulting and RetailWire BrainTrust panelist, said, “I think that the first level of whole health is simply recognizing that there’s a sort of cross-category do-it-yourself-health going across food, HBC and some general merchandise, and just to recognize that people are sort of trying to solve that problem across categories. Just kind of think of it in the same way that grocers would put together a meal solution to solve a dinner problem.”
Education is the key, say many, to realizing the potential of the whole health market opportunity. Stores are using educational brochures, signage and in-store kiosks as a means to provide the resources consumers need to make informed decisions.
Retailers also need to do a much better job of using the expertise of in-store pharmacy staff to establish a store’s whole health credentials.
Special events are also another means for stores to promote their whole health expertise. According to the Grocery Headquarters piece, in-store events around Natural Cholesterol Education Awareness Month and National Women’s Health Week provide highly targeted opportunities for retailers.
In-store clinics are also gaining in popularity, although some believe that the grocery channel has let others get a head start.
“Those things were offered to the supermarkets five years ago, and today most of the installations are going on in drug stores or mass,” said Mr. Bishop.
Moderator’s Comment: What is your take on the whole health market opportunity and your recommendations for retailers
truly interested in taking advantage of it? –
George Anderson – Moderator