In the final article of a five-part series, Todd Hale discusses health and wellness opportunities.

Why should we care about health and wellness? Because, at a time when growth is still challenging in many departments and categories, many products with wellness claims are significantly outpacing overall retail growth. Nielsen Wellness Track is an enhanced capability to measure the volumetric impact of wellness claims found on all sides of packages, excluding nutritional facts.  Here are some top-line facts illustrating which claims are grabbing the attention of U.S. shoppers.
Take a look at the top five wellness claims driving the biggest growth on either a long- (CAGR) or short-term (latest 52 weeks) basis. Corn-free and grain-free wellness claims trade top positions on the lists of long- and short-term drivers of growth, with the majority of those products in pet food. Low glycemic, ancient grains and gluten-free round out the list of the five fastest-growing wellness claims on a long-term basis. Ancient grains, low glycemic and stevia claims round out the list of the fastest growing claims over the latest 52 weeks. Fifteen of 53 wellness claims tracked by Nielsen posted long-term growth rates in excess of 10%, and only seven of 53 registered declines in sales. Those are incredible growth rates, and I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate the opportunity around health and wellness in our industry.

NMI (, Harleysville, Pa., leaders in research and consulting services related to health, wellness, sustainability and healthy aging, developed a consumer segmentation scheme around health and wellness. At the extremes of the scheme are the WELL BEINGS (the most health proactive consumers, market leaders and influencers, most engaged in sustainability) and the EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRYS (the least health active consumers, more focused on taste, and younger).
Nielsen Homescan and NMI have combined efforts to demonstrate differences in the retail shopping and category buying behaviors across NMI’s five health and wellness segments. In terms of annual spending, the WELL BEINGS are bigger spenders in categories with stronger health perceptions than the EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRYS. Within the dairy department, the WELL BEINGS are bigger spenders, while spending levels for the other four segments are not far from the average spending rate. Within the frozen food department, annual spending rates are very similar across all five segments. This suggests opportunities for retailers to leverage both departments to attract spending from a diverse set of health-engaged shoppers.
When you dig into specific frozen and refrigerated categories at the extremes of the scheme, some interesting differences appear. The WELL BEINGS are big spenders on butter, eggs, snacks/dips/dairy, yogurt, refrigerated juices and drinks, frozen desserts, fruits and toppings, and frozen unprepared meat and seafood. The EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRYS have slightly above average spending in dairy puddings and desserts, frozen pizza and snacks, and frozen breakfast foods. How can retailers create cross-merchandising efforts between other high-indexing categories important to these two groups?

Health and wellness chart

Driving the Growth Wave
As I think back to the low-carb diet craze, a health and wellness movement that shook-up many categories across the store, I was surprised how many companies sat back and watched it impact their sales (both positively and negatively) without taking any action. Today, though, I am very impressed with some of the actions companies are taking to drive the health and wellness growth wave. Some examples of companies taking charge of their growth opportunities with products focused against health and wellness trends include Kroger’s very successful Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organics (“a full line of honest, easy to understand and affordable” private brands) and Nestlé’s gluten-free, no-preservative line of Lean Cuisine Marketplace frozen entrees. Another good example: Kraft’s launch of P3 portable protein packs.  Its web site features the claim “Before there were powders, bars and goos, there was meat, cheese and nuts.” Another new launch around protein: Nestlé’s Stouffer’s Fit Kitchen, a line of high-protein frozen entrees.

Winning or driving growth in dynamic times requires companies to look for opportunities to win with consumer trends that have current and future staying power. Health and wellness is a trend that is delivering exceptional growth today. And with an aging population looking to lead healthier lifestyles as it ages, along with a Millennial population that’s behind many of the better-for-you trends, it will continue to offer growth opportunities tomorrow, too!

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