Guest Contributors Health/Wellness National Nonfood

Non-Food For Thought: Supermarket ‘Selfcare’ Solutions

supermarket selfcare, Sleeper column

by Naomi Sleeper

Naomi Sleeper selfcare supermarkets

VP of Continuous Improvement and Strategic Initiatives, Imperial Distributors

It is that time of year when we replace our holiday indulgences with better-for-you practices. Gyms are packed more than usual, and nutrition becomes a priority (according to Google Trends, the search term “nutrition” has peaked every January over the past five years). In recent years, this seasonal and everyday focus on wellness has widened to a more holistic concept: “selfcare.”

A broad concept of selfcare builds on the strong connection between body and mind, supported by increasing neuroscientific evidence of the impact of nutrition, sleep and exercise on mental clarity, for example. Verywell (verywellmind.com) identifies five different types of selfcare: physical, social, mental, spiritual and emotional. As healthcare costs continue to rise, selfcare aligns with preventive medicine as a key part of healthcare and social care solutions.

The Global Market Development Center (GMDC) has embraced selfcare as a “global movement” that is “creating a commercial revolution” based on consumers’ desire for the products they purchase to meet their individual needs. According to research by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), Pfizer and GMDC, 79 percent of shoppers have a “selfcare mindset and mission” toward finding “health solutions and better-for-you options” while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores (A.T. Kearny, 2019).

Despite flat unit sales across health, wellness, beauty and personal care, premiumization drove dollar sales growth of 1.5 percent last year, with sales increases in 19 of 26 selfcare categories, reports GMDC. Skin care, bath, vitamins and supplements, gastrointestinal liquids, family planning and adult incontinence all realized significant growth over the last year. In addition, while cosmetics are down overall, subcategories including eyebrow, eye combo and lip combo are all significantly up.

Growth in selfcare categories point to consumers’ increasing proactivity about health and wellness and their willingness to experiment with goods and services. Expanding beyond conventional health, beauty, wellness and personal care categories, selfcare products can also include apparel (e.g., athleisure), pet pampering and wellness beverages. The holistic notion of selfcare supports relevant experiences—including healthcare, beauty and grooming services—as well.

As emphasized at GMDC|Retail Tomorrow’s inaugural Healthcare Summit in October, organizing products by selfcare need (e.g., skin care, anxiety and digestive health) is a critical way for retailers to respond to the selfcare movement. For example, some retailers have transitioned from alphabetical organization of supplements to clustering products in this category around health condition, like joint health, to better meet customers’ needs. Expanding on this selfcare solutions-oriented approach to merchandising can lead to great successes for supermarkets.

Supermarkets are well suited to maximize on the selfcare movement. In their 2019 white paper, A.T. Kearney and GMDC indicate how “Selfcare Offers Brick and Mortar Retailers Better Consumer Solutions and a More Competitive Market Position.” According to those firms, brick-and-mortar food, drug and mass (FDM) can leverage four key differentiators to compete in selfcare:

 Customer high trip frequency, providing more opportunities to introduce customers to selfcare offerings;

 Trust in in-store employees who can provide personal in-store selfcare sales service to enhance the shopper experience and guide shoppers to the right products;

 Physical stores to offer selfcare services and experiences (like CVS’s HealthHub and new hair styling and ear-piercing services); and

 Customer data and purchase history to personalize customers’ selfcare shopping experience.

By leveraging these assets, supermarkets can succeed in providing selfcare solutions to better meet shoppers’ needs.

This is an ideal time for supermarkets to take advantage of their position in the marketplace to benefit from and further drive the selfcare movement. Focusing on selfcare needs and solutions in 2020 is a win-win for consumers and retailers for a happy and healthy new year.

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