Building the Business Case for Health and Wellness

Building the Business Case for Health and Wellness

December 11, 2013

Allison Beadle, MS, RD, LD

Editor, RDBA Weekly

What is the key to growing your retail health and wellness initiatives?  It’s pretty straightforward: demonstrate their business rationale. That might be easier said than done, but it’s a critical mindset that you must embrace if you want to succeed in the retail industry. 

Before you start thinking about the business impact of specific tactics—store tours, demos, community events, cooking classes, media segments, etc.—take a step back and think about how to communicate the business case for a health and wellness strategy.  You can start with these three steps.

Step 1:  Focus on the Facts. FMI’s 2013 Shopping for Health Survey provides some excellent evidence that consumers are shopping and making purchasing decisions with health and nutrition in mind.  These are the type of proof points you should provide to your retailer’s leadership to help them understand that health and wellness is a key driver.

  • In the past year, more shoppers report switching to healthier versions of the food they used to eat, compared with 2011
  • Shoppers are most interested in their stores offering more locally grown foods, more healthy ready-to-eat foods, and a tasting station for healthier foods (40 to 41 percent)
  • Nearly three-quarters of shoppers now saying they generally read food labels for ingredients and other product information (73 percent)
  • The vast majority of shoppers—in all age groups—put at least a little effort into eating healthily

Step 2: Bring it Home.  These statistics might be representative of the “average” U.S. grocery shopper, but what about shoppers at your retailer or your specific store? Nothing is more impactful than seeing what is happening in your own backyard.  Take the initiative to find out.

  • Conduct a survey or focus group of your most loyal customers to determine if health and wellness concerns have changed in their shopping behavior, purchasing decisions, or even the perception of your retailer’s brand.
  • Review customer comments from the past 12 months (or more) and look for trends that might be driven by health and wellness concerns, such as product or information requests.
  • Solicit input from buyers or department managers. Ask them specifically if sales have shifted to healthier items.
  • Conduct an analysis of your retailer’s competitors. What health and wellness programming are they doing or offering and how could this affect competition?

3. Think and Communicate Like a Retailer.  This is a prime time to not think like a dietitian.  You must present your case in a way that is meaningful to a retail executive.

  • Think globally. Retail executives think about the total store, so you will need to identify creative opportunities to integrate all departments into a health and wellness strategy.
  • Align with their goals.  Position health and wellness in terms of the benefit your retailer stands to gain by embracing it as a key business strategy.
  • Communicate in the language of retail and business—talk about the impact of health and wellness on sales, profitability, customer loyalty, brand perception, etc.

Advocating for health and wellness initiatives begins with YOU.  But in order to do this effectively, you have to understand and communicate the business case for health and wellness and how this can move the needle for your retailer.