- Eighty-one percent of retailers believe that health and wellness represents a growth opportunity for grocers in the coming years, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness report. That’s up from 70% who said the same in 2014.
- Eighty-nine percent of retailers surveyed said they have established health and wellness programs for customers, employees or both. Three years ago, just 54% of grocers had done so.
- The report also found that many retailers have established dedicated health and wellness managers, 71% of whom say they set the agenda for company health initiatives and are responsible for evaluating them.
For supermarkets, capitalizing on health and wellness these days means offering more than just organic products and an assortment of produce. It means providing services, staffing medical professionals and showing consumers how they can use stores as tools to achieve their health goals.
Grocers like Publix and Martin’s offer healthy cooking classes in stores, while others have installed medical clinics where shoppers can stop in for a flu vaccine or a health screening. Safeway has been partnering with healthcare providers to offer clinics in its stores, including two California locations where patients can have virtual consultations with doctors.
Health programs are spinning off into unique directions as well. Weis Markets recently launched a “Nourish Your Gut” program that identifies 15 foods known to aid digestion, including oats, bananas, kefir and yogurt.
These aren’t just isolated cases, as FMI’s new survey proves. According to the research, 71% of respondents said they’re offering healthy cooking classes, while 46% say they’re offering health screenings in at least half of their locations. Overall, 79% of retailers say they’ve expanded their health and wellness programs and activities over the past two years.
In addition to building shopper loyalty, health initiatives can effectively differentiate retailers in a crowded marketplace. Just look at Hy-Vee, which staked out its healthy identity years ago by establishing retail dietitians in every one of its stores. Since then, the company has expanded to include weight-loss and smoking cessation support groups, a diabetes management program, and even a mobile clinic that travels around to offer health screenings and nutrition info to communities. This summer, news came that the Midwestern retailer plans to build a health-focused store in Des Moines, Iowa, complete with a medical clinic and a gym.
To really see returns, retailers need to invest and offer meaningful solutions with their health and wellness programs. Many retailers surveyed by FMI noted they’re offering healthy product samplings (89%), healthy recipes (86%) and good-for-you products (86%). These are good steps, but they are also low-hanging fruit that by themselves won’t make much of an impression on shoppers. Indeed, it can be difficult to offer health services in the same place where soda, sugary cereals and candy are sold.