Hartman Group breaks down health and wellness consumer segments

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Consumers think, live and shop differently depending on where they are within the “World” of Health and Wellness, according to the Hartman Group report "Health + Wellness: A Culture of Wellness," released in December. More than consumer segmentation, the Hartman Group’s World model accounts for consumer engagement with the institutions comprising wellness culture and serves not only as a helpful way of recognizing how consumers may differ from each other, but also as model of cultural change and the emergence and adoption of new health and wellness trends. 

All consumers participate in the World of health and wellness, behaviorally and aspirationally, the report noted. “Core” consumers comprise the smallest segment (13% of adults). They are the early adopters, trendsetters, evangelists. In 2013, they described health and wellness as proactive and mindful in body, mind and soul. They privilege authenticity, sustainability, quality and knowledge and often serve as the source of this knowledge as they navigate retail and other sites of health and wellness decision making.

“Inner” and “outer” mid-level consumers together account for a majority (62%) of adults. They are not as intensely committed as core consumers but are essential to the success of any “trend” – selecting, translating and adopting new ideas launched from the core. As of 2013, they have solidly embraced ideas of health and wellness that integrate mind and body, self and community. The most involved of them have an eye on authenticity and ground their purchase decisions in a bank of knowledge, while those less involved are glad to rely on experts.

What the Hartman Group identified as periphery consumers (25%) understand that they should eat right and exercise, and even if they don’t act on these consistently, in 2013 they aspire to manage their health proactively, with a goal of happiness rather than simply freedom from illness. They turn to brands for perceived quality and consistency, and they may bow to price and convenience more than core or mid-level consumers.

But today all segments for the first time share in a broadened, personal, proactive wellness perspective, the Hartman Group noted. 

"Over the past decade, we have observed a shift away from a perfunctory, ascetic, reactive and compliant notion of wellness to one that is more experiential, positive, holistic, proactive and self-assessed," the Hartman Group released as part of its executive summary of the report. "There has been a cultural shift — now complete for all intents and purposes — from 'health' to 'quality of life;' from reactive health to proactive wellness."

Increased reliance in 2010 on discount, dollar and grocery at the expense of more specialized health and wellness channels has subsided as consumers return some of their business to specialty in 2013, the Hartman Group noted. At the same time, products offering wellness distinctions (such as natural or organic) have become so ubiquitous that alternative/specialty channels will need to offer more to maintain their appeal.

Within health management, weight is still top-of-mind but no longer as central to consumer practice and urgency. Conditions whose presence is often assessed via self-diagnosis (especially relating to digestion and energy) have gained salience. What consumers look for in themselves is often conditioned by what they see in others. Because diabetes has gained exposure across social networks, engagement in diabetes prevention has extended to younger consumers. And consumers continue to seek food-based approaches to getting the appropriate vitamins and nutrients in their diets, the Hartman Group report noted.

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