Natural retail fortitude used to simply mean you dared to go whole grain (or against the whole grain, depending on the era) and open a health food store. Unique stores drew passionate customers, with both parties living and touting a healthier way of life. This message has become so ubiquitous today that even Wal-Mart wants in on the action.
Everything about retailing—particularly natural products retail—is changing.
Consumer spending priorities have shifted, even as the country recovers from recession. Shoppers seem younger (what do these millennials want, anyway?) and older, as boomers seek the fountain of youth.
The cost of doing business continues to rise.
Technology moves at warp speed.
Competition appears unending.
Transforming business models test stalwart beliefs.
The Economist noted the grocery revolution in particular in its Retail 2022 report, suggesting a cultural shift to smaller, more convenient stores with targeted products, prepared foods and impulse goods that meet immediate needs—forecasts that augment the rise of online outlets. However, “this [shift] could open the way for smaller players to erode the share of market leaders by 2022 thanks to the flexible small-store strategies,” according the report.
Watch out Wal-Mart. Independent health food stores do have the power (and will) to win.
In June’s annual Market Overview edition, we’ll explore just how some retailers navigate the new waves of competition and swaying market forces. But before we get to that data from our annual survey, in the May issue we looked at how demand for foodservice in particular has inspired new models and changing store concepts. One format serves the on-the-go consumer with an extensive ready-made selection.
These retailers inspire with their vision, creativity and commitment to fulfilling customer needs. The viability of retail relies on such traits.
And such traits deserve recognition. To honor and promote those who exemplify the essence of natural retail—innovation, sustainability, creativity and community—Natural Foods Merchandiser is partnering with the Natural Products Expo team to award the Retailer of the Year in four categories: most innovative, sustainability, best new store and community. Please enter your nomination by mid-May. Winners will be announced this September at Expo East in Baltimore.