Wellness is without doubt the buzzword of the year. We’ve seen festivals, campaigns and government & workplace initiatives to encourage us to take better care of ourselves. I was struck by this recently waiting for a train, having been forced to read the noticeboard due to a low phone battery. Aside from rail messages, there were 10 separate entities peddling their wellness wares. With media placing greater attention on the topic, how is retail playing its part? Have retailers adapted their stores to accommodate for rising demand? If so, how?
As the internet changes how we go about our daily lives, there are certain analogue industries that aren’t for shifting. There’s one inevitable truth of existence; the average person will still need to eat 3 times a day. Despite the best efforts of some retailers, grocery delivery is still relatively underdeveloped in Ireland. The average Irish shopper visits a store at least 3 times per week. With an average trip time of over 5 minutes even for smaller formats, there is a considerable opportunity for stores to have a positive impact on the shopper experience. Let’s take a tour across the industry and explore some of the best in class examples across Ireland of retailers going above and beyond to embrace wellness in store.
Our first stop on the tour is Supervalu and their commitment to the wellbeing of their shoppers. They have taken a three-pronged approach through in-store activation, online and its new All things considered cafe. The introduction of a special wellness aisle allows shoppers to easily locate a range of healthy products without having to sift through the whole store. The aisle is well lit and clearly signposted to enhance shopper convenience and drive satisfaction amongst shoppers with a focus on wellbeing.
This focus towards health and wellbeing is also visible on the Supervalu website. Educational information is readily available to support and inspire shoppers to make healthier decisions, with tips tailored to different customer groups. For example, there is a section for vegetarian customers or those looking to reduce meat consumption, a section for those with a gluten intolerant or adopting a gluten free diet and a section targeting students during exam period that gives advice around nutrition that enables shoppers to prepare effectively.
The final Supervalu example is its All Things considered café that was introduced on 23rd November 2018. The pop-up venue was open between 10am and 8pm for two days and encouraged people to bring along a friend, who they may not have seen for some time and enjoy some coffee and Christmas treats. The proceeds from the All Things Considered café were donated to ALONE; a charity that provides support to hundreds of older people every week, who are homeless, socially isolated, living in deprivation or in crisis.
Our next stop saw us visit Lidl, who are supporting shoppers with more specific needs through autism awareness nights. In April, LIDL Ireland started holding autism-friendly evenings for their customers, in which there are reduced sensory elements in place throughout the store. These take place every Tuesday from 6-8pm and are a simple way to show support to all shoppers, break down barriers and increase accessibility. Further to this, Lidl Ireland have provided an autism awareness training programme for all staff members.
Similar to Supervalu, Centra have invested in educational campaigns that focus on health and wellness. They have introduced a wellness hub that shoppers can sign up to. It is a 10 week challenge that aims to help people eat better, get active and live mindfully. Those registered have access to exclusive content from nutritionists, mindfulness coaches and competitions. This campaign was heavily promoted through Twitter, with people encouraged to share the changes they made and their progress using the hashtag #LiveWell. Like Supervalu, this is a great example of a retailer going above and beyond to educate shoppers and promote healthier living and wellness.
We have also seen Tesco experiment with store layout. As part of wider strategic initiatives (which focuses on the development of F&F and championing of fresh produce), the retailer also understands the development of shopper demand for healthier ingredients. Newer format stores embrace premium health-led products, with many located in secondary locations in-store. The below picture also highlights their commitment to making shopping easier for those with specific dietary requirements and allergies. These are simple changes that can go a long way towards satisfying an increasingly growing group of customers.
Pharmacies and health & beauty specialists are in a uniquely strong position as trusted advisors, and Boots leads the way with its unobtrusive wellness hub. This informative feature allows shoppers (or just readers) to make incremental changes to daily habits. There are subtle links to products which help steer shoppers and also ensure traffic remains on their site. This is a way of intelligently harnessing shopper interest, without aggressive targeting.
So #wellness isn’t going anywhere. Shoppers are demanding responses from retailers, and some are delivering better than others. Shopper mix will of course impact the level of effort required but, from what we know about Irish shopper behaviour, there is little downside to offering your shoppers the respite they seem to crave everywhere else.
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