Now that holistic health has caught up with the anti-aging trend, supermarkets have the chance to create a unique whole-store wellness experience
Anti-aging cleansers, serums and creams are beating out every other subcategory in skin care, even those feisty acne treatments for the teenage set.
But it doesn't stop there. Led by Baby Boomers, consumers have come to terms with getting older, and rather than trying to halt the process, they're out to do it in the best way possible, according to industry experts.
For retailers this means providing health education and in-store programs that provide a more holistic view of aging, tying health and beauty care, produce and sometimes pharmacy into a total wellness concept.
Stores like Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., provide health and prevention educational materials, while Stop & Shop Supermarkets, Quincy, Mass., participates in many campaigns that promote overall wellness and the regular eating of nutritious food, according to company spokespeople.
For example, Stop & Shop provides promotional materials for the Produce for Better Health Foundation's campaign, “Fruits & Veggies — More Matters.” The program is aimed at increasing people's consumption of fruits and vegetables, which often falls below recommendations.
The Global Market Development Center, Colorado Springs, also known as GMDC, has even changed the name of its yearly Health and Beauty Care Marketing Conference to the Health Beauty Wellness Marketing Conference, a significant indication of the way the industry now perceives HBC as being connected to wellness. This year's event will take place later this week in Palm Desert, Calif., and will feature wellness awareness education programs.
At Wild Oats Markets, Boulder, Colo., a storewide program called “Eating Well for Healthy Aging” kicked off at the beginning of this year, said spokeswoman Heather Musselman. (Wild Oats was purchased by Whole Foods last week.)
The initiative includes in-store signage, an informational book and an interactive online guide that are “all-encompassing,” said Christopher Depetris, director of holistic health for Wild Oats.
“At Wild Oats, we try to remind our customers that what you feed your body is just as important as what you put on your skin,” said Musselman. “We're all getting older, and it's just one way we can assist with aging more gracefully.”
The guide provides “an excellent way for people to recognize the importance of what you put in your body today, because it really does have an impact on the way you age,” she said.
At Stop & Shop, “Our selection of anti-aging products has grown at least 50% in the last five years,” said spokesman Robert Keane. “We offer a very comprehensive line of cleansers, moisturizers, serums and kits from brand names such as Olay, Neutrogena, Aveno and others.”
According to data from Information Resources Inc., Chicago, facial anti-aging skin care products have seen a sales increase of 17.2% in the year since July 15, 2006. The skin care subcategory brought in $568 million last year for the food, drug and mass channels, excluding Wal-Mart.
Total sales for the skin care category for the same period came to $1.9 billion, with a 7.7% increase. Facial cleansers made $559 million, with a 3.3% increase, and acne treatments made $340 million, with a 3.6% increase.
Body anti-aging earned $28 million, with a 12.4% increase.
Despite a sizable sales hike in facial products, shoppers also want “healthy aging and skin care in a holistic way, not just something to slather on,” said June Jo, senior ethnographic analyst with market research firm the Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash.
“We know that consumers actually hate the term anti-aging,” Jo said. “A preferable term is healthy aging — it's all about aging well.”
At Publix, for instance, “We do not have a section called out for anti-aging,” said spokeswoman Maria Brous. “Anti-aging products are intermingled with their specific categories.”
Instead, the retailer offers, “great information for our customers for prevention and total health and wellness needs,” she said. This information is available through the retailer's pharmacy department, Pub- lix's Greenwise magazine and online.
“Our Publix Greenwise Markets will allow for further customer education in this area,” Brous said. The first Publix Greenwise Market is set to open in September in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The store will carry natural and organic foods and earth-friendly products, as well as freshly prepared, ready-to-eat cuisine, according to the Publix website.
'GLOWING FROM THE INSIDE'
Consumers are looking for just that kind of experience, said Jo. “It's about glowing from the inside out. Consumers like to learn about lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and they want to have an authentic experiences like a facial or a knowledgeable employee that can recommend products.”
To provide that experience, Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, offers anti-aging skin care in its Whole Body store-within-a-store.
A Whole Body associate at a New York City Whole Foods told SN that the store carries two high-end, natural anti-aging product lines: Kimberly Sayer Organic Skin Care and Zia Natural Skin Care.
Both of these brands are popular with customers, but they do contain a small percentage of synthetic stabilizers, she said. A new line the company is carrying, Mod.Skin Labs, is also doing well, with customers returning to the store specifically for the line.
In addition, Whole Foods opened The Spa by Whole Foods Market, an in-store full-service spa, at one if its Dallas locations at the end of last year.
The Spa has a seminar room for wellness classes, a staff nutritionist, skin care products, and the option to have a concierge do the grocery shopping while customers enjoy treatments, according to the Whole Foods website.
“People are interested in the spa experience as a part of anti-aging,” Jo said. “And it isn't just Boomers — people as young as 12 are getting facials. Boomers are raising their kids saying, ‘You can't undo aging, but you can practice prevention and maintenance.’ This message will really hit home with Millennials too.”
The idea of providing information on prevention and maintenance, as well as on product, is in line with customer preference, Jo said. “It's all about good sun care and drinking a lot of water, things like that.”
Vitamins and minerals play a big role, according to Wild Oats' Depetris. “We have some strong skin care-based vitamin and mineral sellers, including collagen and bioactive silicone.”
Vitamins and minerals are an important ingredient in many of the anti-aging skin care products, said Sue Vodika, HBC buyer/category manager, Bashas', Chandler, Ariz. “Vitamins such as CoQ10 are in numerous lotions. Customers read about the vitamin and then recognize it in the lotion.”
Food ingredients are also making the crossover to skin care in a big way, according to Tom Verhile, director of the Productscan Online Database, owned by Datamonitor, with U.S. offices in New York. “If you read about a food that is really good for you like pomegranate, you think, ‘If it's good for me on the inside, it must be good for me on the outside,’” he said. “That said, probiotics and omega-3s are the hot ingredients right now.”
As a result, “supermarkets are well poised to tie HBC in with the rest of the store for a whole anti-aging initiative,” Jo said.
One of the reasons this approach should be successful is that consumers no longer shop by channel, she said. “Consumers don't even shop by brand anymore. They shop by word of mouth, by Oprah or Pink Ribbon. They will buy products anyplace.”
Jo explained that they will buy Boots-brand anti-aging products at Target, La Mer products at Neiman Marcus, and Dr. Hauschka products at Whole Foods.
“With skin care, consumers are very experimental and open to the possibilities of lifestyle marketing and word of mouth. It's much more expansive than just creams,” she said.