Inside This Issue - Opinion
Walmart flexes muscle in health and wellness
October 15th, 2012
The latest evidence of Walmart’s determination to leverage its unique position in the marketplace to help foster the well-being of its customers is a plan designed to encourage the purchase of more healthful food.
Developed in partnership with HumanaVitality, a subsidiary of Humana Inc., the Louisville, Ky.-based health insurer with which Walmart sponsors a prescription drug plan for Medicare Part D beneficiaries, the new program provides incentives to people to get them to eat better. Starting today, HumanaVitality members who shop at Walmart will receive 5% savings on items, including fresh fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, that have qualified for Walmart’s Great for You icon. The designation, which will start to appear on packaged food sold under the Great Value and Marketside store brands this autumn, is intended to make it easier for shoppers looking for more healthful food to find what they’re seeking.
The incentive plan is an extension of Walmart’s commitment to making nutritious food more accessible and affordable. In the words of Dr. John Agwunobi, the company’s president of health and wellness, it also “represents preventative care in its purest form.”
The program capitalizes on several of Walmart’s strengths — its purchasing power, prowess in distribution, reach among American consumers, and standing as a retailer of food and health care products. The company is the nation’s No. 1 grocer, No. 1 seller of over-the-counter health care products and No. 3 community pharmacy. It clearly has all the elements needed to realize the vision of making its stores true destinations for shoppers focused on health and wellness.
The retailer will have plenty of competition for that distinction. The nation’s supermarkets, most of which, like Walmart, offer a full line of food, pharmacy and O-T-Cs in their stores, are intent on achieving the same objective. And the major drug chains, which are increasing their food assortments and understand the link between health and nutrition, can’t be discounted.
Walmart has gotten off to a fast start in health and wellness and, in the process, helped raise the bar for the entire industry. If the new program to incentivize the purchase of healthful food is any indication, it’s clear that the company is determined to maintain a leadership role in the field.