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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Design a wellness-centered retail strategy for 2015

Design a wellness-centered retail strategy for 2015
This year we’ll see stores create wellness retail models to become shoppers' go-to place for products that are close to nature, protein-packed, organic and increasingly biodynamic.

Pressures on social and healthcare systems -- including increasing fragmentation of points of care, primary care physician shortages, an aging population and the corresponding global consumer focus on wellness -- are all impacting retail strategy for 2015 and beyond.

This year we’ll see stores create wellness retail models in an effort to become shoppers' go-to place for wellness and provide better product and service options for core consumers.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the wellness trends we’ve identified at Daymon Worldwide to help our retailer and manufacturer partners meet the wellness challenges of the future.

Nature knows best

Consumers are seeking products that are as close as possible to the way nature originally made them.  This means trusting that nature has already designed the best ingredients that offer natural healing properties, and that eating whole plants that intrinsically have all the necessary nutrients is the best kind of medicine. This is in contrast to the past trend of products that relied on food technology and functional food ingredients.

As a result, we’re seeing increased consumer interest in nutrient-dense foods and superfoods that inherently have more protein, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, beneficial fats, etc.  The nature knows best philosophy also drives the “eat your vitamins” trend, moving consumers away from traditional vitamin supplements to instead choose whole food supplements made from whole plant ingredients.  

Additionally, the growing interest in gut health supported by scientific investigation of the microbiome is driving a new market for probiotic and prebiotic supplements and foods.

Proteins get redefined

Protein is more important than ever, but consumers want it offered in healthier forms. The meat reduction trend and the “flexitarian” diet are two examples of easy-to-offer alternative protein options.

Leading this trend is the rise of plant-based proteins such as quinoa, pea protein and brown rice protein, driving innovative new product formulations. Paradoxically, the popularity of soy, the go-to plant-based protein for decades, is flattening as these new sources emerge.

The buzz about insect protein follows the desire for more sustainable sources of protein. Asian cultures have been eating insects for centuries, but it remains to be seen if Western consumers can overcome their culturally-conditioned “yuck” reaction.

Must-have organic

Organic is now mainstream, driven by global consumer concerns about wellness, the way food is produced and the effect on the environment. Where does it go from here? 

Expect to see more organic product innovation that incorporates more flavors and global cuisines. Our fast-paced culture is also expecting convenience from organic in foodservice, packaging, grab-and-go solutions and snacks. Wellness brands will emphasize organic and drop the word “natural” in favor of more defined “free-from” guarantees.

The price declines seen in organic private label brands will stall in the near-term as the gap between organic supply and demand grows.  Manufacturers and retailers will need to secure supply through long-term contracts with growers and pursue vertical integration through owning the means of production to keep costs down.

Organic trade will become even more globalized, as international organic equivalency agreements lower regulatory hurdles and the insatiable U.S. demand for organic products reaches further abroad.

The organic industry and consumer groups will increasingly lobby Congress for subsidies for organic farmers/growers, especially to help them through the costly three-year required transition to organic.

The next step:  Biodynamic agriculture

Leading-edge consumers looking beyond the organic horizon are already embracing biodynamic products as the next frontier in food purity and sustainability. According to the Biodynamic Association, biodynamic is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture. First developed in the early 1920s, it’s based on the insights and practical suggestions of the Austrian writer, educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). Today, the biodynamic movement encompasses agricultural operations large and small on all continents.

Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health.

Take a look; you’ll start to see biodynamic products on shelf.  In fact, Whole Foods is featuring biodynamic products, and Republic of Tea offers biodynamic tea.

It’s tempting to say that 2015 will be the Year of Wellness at retail, but it may be more accurate to say that wellness is a consumer trend that is here to stay.  To stay relevant with core consumers, savvy retailers and manufacturers need to be ready to meet demand in these new areas of better living.

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