SN's conference at Expo West has ended, and the Expo itself is under way.
So it's time to take a moment and reflect on a couple of key takeaway's from the half-day SN event.
First, you can see news coverage of SN's event on our special Expo West web page.
Now, here are my key thoughts:
1. Total-store health imperative: As health and wellness continues to grow at mainstream retail, the challenge isn't just to stock stores with new products. It's also to extend the wellness strategy to all parts of the retail environment, from food to pharmacy. That's a key takeaway I had from our total-store health panel.
The consumer needs to see a consistent direction, including with service and messaging.
Retailers also need to be authentic in their health messages to consumers, and become health advocates.
It's also important to mentor colleagues, partners and consumers as health and wellness becomes more mainstream. That means helping to teach suppliers about retailer needs, and coaching employees on how to educate consumers.
2. Importance of being entrepreneurial: The session on newer retail players, including Sprouts Farmers Market and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, underscored the importance of being entrepreneurial. It also illuminated that entrepreneurial, emerging players have some advantages against more established ones.
What do I mean by that? It's harder for established retailers not grounded in the health and wellness space to keep their focus on monitoring and battling smaller competitors. They may adapt, improve and lower prices for a while to compete, but it's hard to sustain.
Smaller players can be more stealth with size and flexibility. They often have momentum on their side.
I really liked this comment from Jim Nielsen, COO at Sprouts, which shows how embedded he is in his operation: "Sprouts is my life. It's a neighborhood store, it's your local butcher, and we appreciate our team members."
Retailers need to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit when forming health and wellness partnerships. That was one of my takeaways from the talk by Margaux Drake, Living Well Lifestyle Expert, D&W Fresh Market.
She stressed the importance of "thinking outside the box" as she develops partnerships with the local community around everything from "healthy happy hours" to "spin classes."
Here's the best part of this, according to Margaux:
"Health and wellness can be fun. That's what we're trying to promote with these partnerships."
Read more: SN's coverage of Natural Products Expo West
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