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Supers should thrive in health, wellness

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A recent study serves as a reminder of the substantial opportunity that supermarket operators have in the field of health and wellness. In a report entitled “The Health of Health & Beauty Care in the Grocery Channel,” Acosta points out that of the $84 billion a year spent on H&BAs in this country, supermarkets garner just 18% of the total, even though they generate more frequent store visits than any other trade class.

MMR OpinionGrocers are, however, waking up to the untapped potential in health and beauty care, where sales growth is more than three times that for the store as a whole. Led by such companies as Albertsons, H-E-B and Wakefern, supermarkets are beginning to make inroads in a sector where each point of market share represents $1 billion in revenue. Acosta calls attention to the fact that more people today are buying H&BAs while grocery shopping. Of the 53% of consumers who purchase such products in supermarkets, 18% are obtaining more of them in the channel than they were a year ago. And shoppers who purchase H&BAs in grocery stores are very valuable customers. The typical basket size for those consumers is $82.37, according to the report, more than twice that of the average shopper.

For supermarkets, H&BAs are just one component of a compelling proposition, one where, if there is a serious commitment and things are done right, the whole should exceed the sum of its parts. A majority of stores run by major grocery chains include a pharmacy which, together with the core food assortment and H&BAs, puts the trade class in an enviable position for helping customers attain their health and wellness goals.

The key differentiator for the trade class in relation to chain drug stores, which account for the lion’s share of prescription drug sales and are a potent force in H&BAs, is its core expertise in food. As a steady stream of scientific research reinforces the close link between proper nutrition and good health, and as more consumers become aware of that connection, the ability of supermarkets to claim the allegiance of health-conscious shoppers is enhanced. Companies that succeed in making their customers understand the relationship between what they eat and how they feel, and provide a comprehensive array of assets to help them on their health journey, gain a competitive edge.

Hy-Vee is a case in point. The retailer’s stores not only give shoppers access to an extensive selection of food, including prepared meals, but also serve as a reliable source of information about nutrition, diet and wellness. Customers with questions can consult Hy-Vee dietitians, chefs, pharmacists and, in a growing number of locations, the people who staff in-store clinics.

The retailer’s extensive reach in health and wellness is further reflected in its HealthMarket departments, which feature natural and organic food and H&BAs. Hy-Vee even has a burgeoning presence in specialty medications, having acquired Amber Pharmacy two years ago. The deal positioned Hy-Vee to help patients manage complex, chronic conditions by assigning a health care team to develop an individualized plan for clinical care. The program allows specialty patients to obtain all their medications and services from one source.

Hy-Vee is one of the supermarket chains most deeply committed to supporting the health and wellness of its customers. Only when more members of the trade class decide to take a similar course will grocers claim their fair share of business in H&BAs and other categories that have traditionally been associated with drug stores.


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