H&W ‘Superusers’ Represent Vital Opportunity

Only 26 percent of the consumer population accounts for 61 percent of all spending on health and wellness products, or more than $161 billion annually, according to a new study by global business advisory firm AlixPartners.

Dubbed “superusers,” these consumers spend four times as much on health and wellness products than the general population. However, successfully targeting this group poses a challenge for retailers, as these consumers vary in their willingness to pay more for some products, they tend to be confused by product claims and labeling, and they often shop in unexpected channels.

The study finds that superusers spend more than four times as much of their monthly health and wellness-related expenditures on fresh fruits and vegetables ($81.93 vs. $19.12); more than three-and-a-half times as much on fresh meat and seafood ($56.01 vs. $15.58); and more than five times as much on dairy products ($31.15 vs. $5.65).

Additionally, superusers on average spend almost seven times as much on prepackaged foods ($18.70 vs. just $2.70); over five times as much on frozen foods ($16.34 vs. $2.90); almost five times as much on non-alcoholic beverages ($12.99 vs. $2.75); almost five times as much on prepared/ready-to-eat foods ($10.50 vs. $2.11); and more than five times as much on snack foods ($8.50 vs. $1.61).

The study found that superusers value certain characteristics in their health and wellness products, like trans-fat-free and gluten-free, yet their willingness to pay more for those attributes varies widely. For example, only 2 percent said they would pay greater than 10 percent more for gluten-free products, while 15 percent said they would pay greater than 10 percent more for locally-sourced products.

“Certain product features are critically important in the health and wellness space and can often command a significant price premium, but the trick is knowing which features for which group of consumers,” said David Garfield, managing director at AlixPartners and head of the firm’s Consumer Products Practice. “At the same time, of course, universal attributes such as taste, value and convenience will remain critical – as they are to the vast majority of consumers.”

The study also finds that traditional grocery stores are capturing no less than 43 percent of all superusers’ spending on health and wellness items, which comprises a higher percentage than mass retailers (17 percent), club stores (12 percent) and large health food stores (16 percent).

Older consumers in particular often buy their health and wellness-related food and beverage products at traditional grocers, with shoppers 48 to 66 spending 47 percent of their health and wellness budget in that channel. By comparison, shoppers aged 18 to 24 purchase only 31 percent from traditional grocers.

“Consumer products companies in general and food and beverage companies in particular have a game-changing opportunity with today’s growing interest in health and wellness,” Garfield added. “But to take full advantage of it, companies are going to need to be very granular in their understanding of what these consumers really want and are willing to pay for, how to attract their attention and win their trust, and how best to reach them when and where they want to shop.”

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