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Shopper Trends|August 03, 2020

Shoppers are Taking Back WELL: 5 Ways Retail Can Help

Remember December, when so many people resolved to include holistic wellness in their foods, products, and activities? The pandemic sidelined the healthy-living movement for many, but now, after several months of sheltering-in-place, shoppers are reclaiming the concept of personal and family wellness in all they do. Here’s how retail stores can help.

Shoppers Are So Ready to Drop the Quarantine-15

After five months of working at home, eating at home, entertaining kids, and ourselves at home and stressing out at home, shoppers are learning to live with the pandemic as their new normal.

Now, as the pandemic evolves from a crisis to a way of life, people are picking up on their pre-pandemic priorities – when 73% of shoppers told us they were being proactive about their overall wellness. Shoppers again expect all purchases, from snacks to skincare to pain relievers, to support their total wellness – physical, emotional, and financial, as well as contribute to sustainability.

According to our June 2020 How America Shops® survey data...

  • More are financially worried. Today, 41% of shoppers are pessimistic about their finances, a big jump from 29% in November 2019.
  • As a result, shoppers plan to cut back on spending in the next three to six months, but not in the categories that will keep them healthy:
    • Three-quarters will continue to spend as usual on vitamins, supplements, bottled water for hydration, prescription drugs and oral care.
    • 40% will buy products that are “clean,” natural and/or organic, the same level as 2019.
    • 44% will choose products and brands that are sustainable, up from 38% pre-pandemic.

Pants are Tight, So Wellness is On the Loose

Perhaps after so many months of staying home and managing the stress (and stress eating) of quarantine, shoppers feel a greater need to control their wellness and health. Here’s where retailers can help. Remember: Shoppers do expect the stores they visit to feel safe, but they also want to be happy again. Reclaiming control of their own health and wellness is, for many, the answer.

And it extends, importantly, throughout Shopping Life® in the retail store. Here is what we’ve seen:

  1. Retail wellness clinics get a makeover. In the new WSL podcast with Walmart’s Matt Parry, Senior Director of Customer Experience for health and wellness, he reveals how Walmart will continue to disrupt wellness by expanding its new health format to more locations, including inner cities, and deliver on the 3 Cs of wellness: Cost, Care, and Convenience. The drug chains also will dedicate more space for wellness. Walgreens plans to open as many as 700 primary care clinics in a deal with VillageMD; and CVS expects to operate 1,500 HealthHubs by the end of 2021.  
  2. A new shopping lifestyle. Stress has been the No .1 obstacle to good health since we began tracking it in 2014. By 2019, shoppers were reducing stress by taking back time spent shopping. In-store trips were down, and digital services that make shopping faster and easier were on the rise. Now, thanks to the pandemic, stores are closing earlier to sanitize, limiting early hours to senior citizens and changing the clock for shopping.
  3. The Five-Year technology leap. Few retailers were prepared for the pandemic-driven deluge of online ordering for basic groceries and health and beauty goods. Parry, of Walmart, said the pandemic fast-forwarded its technology expertise by five years. This is where technology investments should be directed for the next year or more as many shoppers continue to take the faster, easier paths to do their basic shopping online.
  4. Safe Shopping. Many shoppers are choosing how and where they shop based on reduced risks to their health. At least half expect the new basics of store safety to include sanitization, sanitary wipes, distancing, and face masks.
  5. It’s time to try something new. The shift to online buying presents new brands with the challenge of breaking through without the benefit of endcaps and shelf browsing. The pandemic may have provided a solution. Limited stock enhances the “permission to substitute” option on services such as Instacart, Peapod or Kroger’s Ship to Home. One-third of shoppers told us they have tried brands they had never before used. Is this the way to offer a shopping adventure that leads to a new brand trial?

Shoppers may be working from home, teaching from home, and eating from home for another six months or more. As we all hit a wall of overeating and indulging, we expect people to shake it up and get back to wellness regimens that include supporting their immune systems, watching ingredients and losing the Quarantine-15.

To hear more about Walmart’s plans to support shopper driven strategies click here to listen to the WSL Future Shop Podcast with Matthew Parry.

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