GMDC Releases New Health-and-Wellness Report

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GMDC Releases New Health-and-Wellness Report

While each consumer’s level of intensity and passion regarding health and wellness may differ, the common elements of their lifestyles are identifiable -- and understanding the trajectory of where these lifestyles will take them is imperative for recognizing future business opportunities, according to a new study released by the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Global Market Development Center’s (GMDC) Educational Foundation.

The 180-page study, titled “Consumer Shopping Habits for Wellness and Environmentally Conscious Lifestyles,” and presented last week in New York, examines today’s health-and-wellness consumers — not an easy task, as no particular demographic defines them; they’re representative of all incomes, genders, educational backgrounds and ethnicities.

The study found that there are three key segments of health-and-wellness consumers: Core (13 percent), Mid-level (62 percent) and Periphery (25 percent), and almost the entire U.S. population fits into one of these segments.

“Core consumers are most lifestyle-involved in health and wellness, and serve as trendsetters for other consumers,” said Chris DePetris, GMDC’s director of wellness programs. “It’s a major life focus for them. Mid-level consumers are moderately involved in the lifestyle, and tend to follow some of the trends set by the Core group and purchase large amounts of both conventional and health-and-wellness-specific products. Periphery consumers are the ‘entry-level’ health-and-wellness consumers, and are more reactive than proactive when it comes to health and wellness.”

However, there’s a constant evolution toward the Core group over time, driven by triggers such as life stages and illness, and making the health-and-wellness consumer a constantly moving target.

Within health-and-wellness product categories, the study found that there is a “Predictable Product Adoption Path,” showing the order by which consumers typically introduce product categories into their wellness regimens as they evolve from Periphery toward the Core. This path, which can be quite helpful as a guide for targeting products and retail offerings that are most relevant to consumers, begins with the categories of foods and beverages, and progresses through supplements (vitamins), cleaning products, personal care products and other categories.

Gateway categories — those that serve as entry points into the health-and-wellness purchasing arena — are the most important and immediately relevant to consumer health and wellness, the research revealed. These include functional beverages, supplements, children’s hygiene and toiletries, hair and skin care, home cleaning, and books, magazines and education.

The gateway categories are often the first that a consumer will experiment with, and that most often lead to additional trials of products in other health-and-wellness categories. For example, new parents may buy organic baby food and then try some organic foods themselves, followed by organic and natural products in other categories such as personal care.

“The tough — but essential — part,” said an executive from Mauldin, N.C.-based Bi-Lo who participated in the research, “is first identifying the segments of health-and-wellness shoppers in your stores, and adjusting your assortment and messaging to help them along that pathway.”

In-depth coverage of the study will be published in Progressive Grocer’s March 2010 issue, and an executive summary of the study is available at