The Quest for the Health and Wellness Consumer

White paper outlines best practices for capturing health-conscious customers

Health and wellness is a topic on every food retailer’s radar.

Wellness is a market valued at $3.4 trillion globally, with $574 billion spent annually on healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss alone. And because data shows that consumers hold retailers accountable for their health and wellness journey, it is vitally important for retailers to understand the evolving health and wellness shopper.

Next Practices: The Health & Wellness Consumer, Helping Trading Partners Shape the Future…Today,* a white paper from the Global Market Development Center (GMDC), helps retailers and manufacturers do just that. It identifies trends shaping the new consumer-driven health and wellness movement, explains barriers consumers face, and provides “next practice” solutions that can help businesses create seamless trips for shoppers pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

“Health and wellness is central to all purchase decisions. You may think it’s all about food—but you couldn’t be more wrong,” the white paper says. “It is a movement that is driven by consumer values, shows itself in how shoppers shop, and is critical to the success of manufacturers and retailers. It is relevant, it is enormous, it is growing and it is dynamic.”

As Jeff Rehling, lead author of the white paper, says, “By offering the right products, mix and merchandising strategies, consumers feel the difference in stores and can spend less time hunting for products that pertain to their health and wellness motives.”

The following information can help retailers and manufacturers bridge the gap between trading partners and ultimately create the kind of stores Rehling describes—stores that are destinations for health and wellness consumers today, and will be in the future, as well.

Understanding the Marketplace

Knowing who the health and wellness customer is, as well as the trends driving the growth of the category, is key to becoming successful in the space.

Who Is Today’s Health and Wellness Consumer?

The consumer at home, at work, at school and at play is at the heart of the health and wellness movement—and that consumer’s commitment to living a healthier life is changing his/her behavior inside the store. What follows is a look at a typical health and wellness shopper’s behavior:

  • Healthy Home: Focuses on clean labels and on organic fruit and vegetables, stays gluten-conscious, and looks for items that help make meals faster and fresher.
  • Healthy Workplace: Reduces snacking at work, keeps healthy food at the desk, takes the stairs instead of the elevator, takes a yoga class on lunch hour.
  • Healthy School: Buys only healthy snacks and has eliminated products containing high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Plans family vacations that include activities such as hiking, wears a FitBit, schedules wellness visits for the family, and limits the number of eating-out occasions
    in favor of eating at home more often.

Key Health and Wellness Drivers

Nine macro-level trends are influencing consumers’ attitudes, motivations and behavior—and they’re happening so rapidly that even retailers and manufacturers who are adapting in real time risk being left behind. Understanding these trends and their impact on the future of health and wellness is important for any business that wants to shape the future and remain profitable.

  • Consumers are exercising three days a week on average.
  • 63% are trying to eat healthier, and 44% eat more at home.
  • 45% read product labels to make healthier choices.
  • 85% have seen a doctor at least once.
  • 48% of consumers shop local for natural/organic.
  • 45.7 million consumers use their phone to search for health and wellness solutions.
  • Baby boomers spend 42% more on health and wellness than millennials.
  • 1 in 2 Americans are shifting from health care to self-care as a result of rising costs.
  • 8 in 10 consumers are using vitamins and supplements to enhance their wellness.

Developing ‘Next Practices’

If you want to engage and win tomorrow’s consumers, you must take steps now to achieve that goal.

Addressing the Four C’s

Convenience, confusion, commitment and cost are the four C’s that represent your road map for the evolving health and wellness consumer.

1. Convenience

Make It Easy: Make your store a health and wellness destination; embrace new assortment principles by carrying core products (multivitaimins), niche products (gluten-free items), and disruptive items (probiotics); and create an omnichannel experience.

2. Confusion

Make It Simple: Strive for product transparency by avoiding generic labels (“healthy”) and using specific claims (“reduced calorie”); seek simplicity by making sure associates can help shoppers understand key product benefits; and break through the noise by communicating product benefits and recommending personalized solutions.

3. Commitment

Make It Mine: Help shoppers make emotional connections by focusing on ways to make them feel better or happier; avoid a one-size-fits-all approach (Boomers are motivated by aging and health concerns, millennials more by life stage changes); and motivate shoppers with loyalty programs that create incentives for them to make healthier choices.

4. Cost

Make It Valuable: Offer a variety of price points on healthy products, and follow the “goldilocks” of pricing approach (deliver the right product at the right time at the right price).

Collaborate to Overcome Barriers

To fully embrace and leverage the health and wellness opportunity—and ultimately to succeed with the future health and wellness consumers—retailers and manufacturers must collaborate to overcome existing barriers. The top four barriers hindering consumers as they work to embrace a lifestyle rooted in health and wellness are especially essential to overcome: lack of convenience, confusion caused by conflicting information, prohibitive costs and commitment.

  • 45% don’t have time.
  • 42% say there is too much conflicting information available.
  • 40% says it costs too much.
  • 32% say it requires too much effort.
  • 15% don’t like to eat healthy foods.
  • 14% don’t like to exercise.
  • 4% say they’re not enough information available.


To download the white paper, click here.

*Sponsors and contributors: AmerisourceBergen, Crossmark, Johnson & Johnson, Navajo Inc., Unilever, Nielsen, Advantage Solutions, Rodale, Kantar Retail,
Edgewood Consulting Group



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