SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Today's grocery shoppers rate whole health as increasingly important to the way they live, and an area where supermarkets can do much more.
That is among some key findings from a new consumer study, commissioned by the General Merchandise Distributors Council Educational Foundation, Colorado Springs, Co., and released here last week during the GMDC Health and Beauty Care Marketing Conference, Sept. 15 to 19.
Under a brilliant sun and soaring 100-degree temperatures, approximately 1,000 retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers turned out to celebrate the 30th anniversary year of the association, and discuss how best to serve consumers in this new age of health-related concerns. Although attendance counts weren't official at press time, GMDC officials admitted attendance was off slightly this year do to continued consolidation among the retail and supplier channels.
The study of 1,200 grocery shoppers, ages 18 to 65, helped reinforced the various whole-health concepts being applied by many supermarkets today. It found that nearly 80% of both women and men feel whole health is more important now than two years ago and it will become even more important within the next two years.
Only about a third to 40% of consumers, however, feel that they are practicing a whole-health lifestyle at a high level at the moment. Eighty percent said they could do much more in achieving a higher level of whole health, according to survey findings. "That creates a gap," said Dave Cook, vice president, research services, The Answer Group, Cincinnati, Ohio, which conducted the study, co-sponsored by Procter & Gamble, Schering-Plough Healthcare Products and Weider Publications.
"That gap (40%) is the opportunity to market to right now. If we can figure out how to help people achieve the health and wellness they think they can realistically get to, we've got a winning strategy," Cook added.
Consumers rated the importance of whole health categories by telling the researcher how much of $100 they would spend against various whole health categories that included hygiene, health/preventive care, nutrition/diet, fitness/exercise, personal appearance and mental/spiritual health. Both men and women perceived hygiene (79% of women and 72% of men) and health and preventive care, including over-the-counter drugs, (75% of women and 66% of men) to be the most important to healthy living.
The results also showed that ideally women and men would like to spend $5 to $6 or more on whole-health areas. Women feel that they should be spending $6.34 more per $100 spent during a typical shopping trip on nutrition and diet, and men feel they should be spending $5.71 more.
The study also defined six whole-health consumer profiles -- from unconcerned to fanatic -- and examined these shoppers' current expectations as to how well supermarkets are presently serving their whole-health needs against price/cost savings, convenience/assistance, selection and availability. The study again found significant gaps between what specific consumer groups want and what they are presently getting in the grocery shopping experience in terms of whole-health merchandising.
"A key insight is that they (whole-health shoppers) are coming to your stores and not finding all the whole-health components that would convert them into heavy, loyal shoppers. We know they are looking for a particular mix of products that GMDC has associated with the whole-health concept. We know they are ready to respond to whole-health displays, features and promotions. They want additional whole-health education," commented Larry Ketchum, business development manager, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Citing the study's findings during his presentation on the state of the HBC industry, Dave McConnell Jr., GMDC president, said shoppers "satisfaction rating isn't doing very well.
"If you are able to satisfy the needs of that (whole-health) customer it will increase overall satisfaction of the store, increase overall purchases and obviously increase whole health purchases. In terms of shopping trips, it will increase whole-health shoppers into your stores and bring in new customers."
"This study is a statement from consumers telling us to implement a broader reaching whole health execution and they will reward us with more purchases," added Ketchum.
In a discussion following the study's release, distributors cited covering a wide store base and packaging a program as challenges in executing a viable whole-health scheme.