At a session at NRF's Big Show on Sunday, execs at three retailers—CVS, REI and Giant Eagle—explored the extensive reach of health & wellness across retail categories and its expanding momentum.
The discussion panel was started by Ann Clurman, EVP of trends and futures consulting at The Futures Company, who offered a number of survey data detailing how people of all ages are committed to getting healthier. She also offered a number of internal and external drivers promising to take the trend to another level:
Increased accountability: Taking care of your health has shifted from "aspirational to attainable" and a national dialogue around health-care, including insurance costs, has helped drive it. Employers are "not only encouraging but insisting their employees get healthier," with many planning on imposing penalties on unhealthy employees in coming years. Socially, 67 percent of adults seeing being in good health as a sign of success and accomplishment.
Quantification: Only nine percent of consumers currently have a fitness wearable device, but 62 percent of those who use them believe their health improved over the prior year. That compares to 27 percent overall who believe their health improved over the last year. "Self-protection" is also critical with not only increased attention to nutritional labeling and ratings on foods but in avoidance of non-toxic cleaning products and the "coughing" checkout personnel.
Increased stress: Stress is increasing due to the abundance of information, fear of "missing out" amid social media, more uncertainty around government leadership, and generally busier lifestyles. But Ms. Clurman said stress is no longer a "status symbol" and looked on more as something "you should get over or fix." Two ways to "reframe stress" are "Transport," which includes short-term diversions such as working out, junk-type food and alcohol; as well as "Minimize," taking steps such as de-cluttering closets or setting up to-do lists and crossing items off. The third particularly supporting H&W trends is "Reset," which is managing emotional and mental stress through mindfulness, "being in the moment," and other methods.
Aging boomers: Rich and powerful, Boomers are seeking an "endless middle age" that healthy living will require. They also don't want stores or any institutions "to remind them that they're getting old."
The three retailers all discussed how their focus on healthy lifestyles is helping them connect with consumers. Grant Pill, VP of merchandising at CVS Health, for example, said a quarter of shoppers in a survey indicated that its decision last year to discontinue tobacco products encouraged them to shop at the drug store more. Extensive anti-smoking campaigns and related efforts by pharmacy staff are drawing reams of winning feedback.
Highlighting some challenges, however, Mr. Pill noted that the H&W opportunity is still about "helping people on their path to better health and not lecturing or forcing them." Caroline Passerrello, corporate dietitian, Giant Eagle, likewise said it's more about "nudging them in the right direction."