health and wellness

Health & Wellness: Healthy Growth

Opportunities abound for retailers as consumer demand for health & wellness products remains strong.
Greg Sleter
Associate Publisher/Executive Editor
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Motivated by a desire to live a healthier life, consumers today are on a continual hunt for products that will help them meet their personal health and wellness goals. From using food as medicine, to natural skin care products and items that help get a good night’s sleep, retailers are boosting assortments with the goal of grabbing a part of this ever-growing and ever-changing segment.

In recent weeks, several retailers have continued to boost assortments with a focus on exclusivity. For example, Target added the Gainful line of workout supplements to its assortment of exclusive branded items. The initial selection features 11 products including two protein bases, four choices of flavor boosters, three individual goal boosts and pre-workout and hydration products. Prices range from $3.99 to $19.99.

Dollar General boosted its offering with the launch of its Beauty Reinvention collection of beauty, skin and hair care products. Consumers are able to shop beauty bars that give customers a ‘treasure hunt’ experience with face masks, hair treatments, nail polish, lip gloss, bath bombs and more.

The retailer also announced three new exclusive skin and hair product lines rolling out at stores nationwide, priced at $6 or less. The three collections, Joy Works, Curl Rhythm and Yes! Honey, each feature products touted by Dollar General as providing shoppers with the opportunity to improve their skin care and hair care regimens.

“Consumers today are more mindful of the entire (health & wellness) segment,” said Richie Rubin, executive vice president of Garcoa, Inc., a company that manufactures personal care products. “It’s not just about beauty or what they eat. They are taking a more holistic approach to the decisions they make about their bodies.”

While the focus on health and wellness is seen across key demographic groups, the up-and-coming Generation Z is beginning to have an impact on the retail marketplace. This young group of consumers is focused on issues related to clean living and sustainability, and seeking products that capture this mindset.

“Gen Z takes a much more mindful approach to how they shop,” Rubin said.

As consumers of all ages become more mindful about health and wellness, one area that continues to gain a great deal of attention is sleep. Whether through consumer advertising or news stories about sleep quality, product suppliers and retailers sensing opportunity have sharpened their focus on new product development and upped their assortment of products related to a good night’s sleep.

“When we looked at the marketplace for insight on what consumers are looking for, we found more than one billion searches on Google for better sleep,” said Adam Scholze, global sales director with French Color & Fragrance.

Although products with melatonin likely are the first that come to mind when thinking about sleep quality, Scholze said fragrances such as lavender and other well known herbs offer properties that allow individuals to feel more relaxed and improve sleep quality.

With specific consumer desires driving new product development, retailers are also expanding their health and wellness assortments with new selections of private label products. This allows them to offer shoppers items that are unique and cannot be found at the competition.

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Scholze acknowledged that retailers are seeking items that allow them to differentiate, and private branded products are a solution that is being used with greater frequency. He cautions, however, that private label products have to be something more than me-too items.

“It’s important to have items that are equal to or better than national brand products,” he said. “It’s also important to be transparent about the ingredients used and the claims that are being made by the products.”

Garcoa’s Rubin noted that retailers are seeking custom formulations for products that allow them to showcase what makes their products and ultimately their store brand different from other items in the market.

“Many retailers are looking for their brands to have a different ethos and speak to different customers,” he said. “We are also seeing more retailers shifting away from thinking of their brands as private label products but as their own brands.”

As retail assortments of health & wellness products evolve, it has become more important to ensure consumers that the claims made by each item are accurate. Scholze said his company works on a daily basis to match up ingredients it receives from suppliers as part of an effort to create a list for retailers to ensure products are meeting the claims made and also meeting regulatory requirements. One of the concerns for industry insiders is the impact of social media, and claims some products are making without verification.

“There is a lot of greenwashing or cleanwashing out there,” Rubin said. “Information on social media is shared in a limited amount of characters or in video snippets, but there is no effort to go above and beyond and share additional information.”

How to solve the challenges presented by social media remains a challenge for the industry, with experts saying there may need to be some governmental intervention.