Consumers share how they shop wellness

SAN ANTONIO — A panel of six consumers of varying backgrounds dished out real insights as to how — and more importantly, why — they shop health and wellness to a packed auditorium of supermarket executives on the opening day of the Health & Wellness @Retail 2013 jointly hosted by the Food Marketing Institute and the Global Market Development Center. Across the panel several common themes were identified. Nutrition labels ought to be simplified, for example, but also be specific. A generalized health claim does as much to turn shoppers seeking healthy solutions away.

Steve Roden of LearnSomething with Diane Oshin of Cooking Light

Shoppers who are striving to eat healthy are fast becoming avid label readers and are willing to pay more for better health-quality items. “I have real issues with packaging,” noted panelist Beth Wolpman. “Because I’m a label reader, I cannot stand these labels that are so difficult to read,” she said. “Label readers are going to stick with those products that meet their [wellness] needs even if they have to pay more,” added Lydia Jones.

Local supermarket retailer H-E-B earned high praise from all panelists, but Whole Foods was identified as the one food retailer that supplied a sought-after shopping “experience.” An experience, incidentally, for which each of the panelists were willing to occasionally splurge. “I look at Whole Foods as being like a treat,” explained panelist Phyllis Goodson. “I go there on a date with my daughter.”

Consumer panelists Beth Wolpman, Amy Sokol, Lydia Jones, Maria Carmona-Alonso, Phyllis Goodson and Cassidy Holdsworth

And though supermarkets have an inside track on identifying health opportunities by pairing their pharmacists and registered dieticians as part of a powerful wellness solution, pureplay drug stores still captured most of the panelists’ prescription business. Many times, noted Amy Sokol, it’s because pharmacy hours don’t correspond to her food-shopping occasions.

Consumer panelists Cassidy Holdsworth and Phyllis Goodson

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