Yoga products have become a high growth category, and drug store retailers are finding ways to capitalize on the growing trend. "Yoga participation has grown at a 12% compounded annual rate since 2000. There has also been a 10% annual growth rate in revenues related to yoga instruction from 2008 to 2012," said Mary Elisabeth Plowden, principal at Partnership Capital Growth. The investment firm estimated that there are approximately 16 million people in the United States who practice yoga, and at least half that many have indicated they would like to try it.
Clearly, there's an upside to the yoga industry. Plowden estimated annual spending on yoga to be $10 billion. Yoga enthusiasts are attractive core consumers; they are generally well educated (57% have a college degree or higher) and earn higher household incomes (50% of participants earn more than $75,000 a year).
Yoga apparel is the largest segment in the industry, followed by yoga media. Sales of props/equipment (e.g., bags, blocks, bolsters and towels) rank third. Annual sales in this segment total about $2 billion, according to Partnership Growth Capital estimates.
Since a majority of yoga participants are women, drug chains are seeing an opportunity in the category. "The demographics match, so it's a missed opportunity not to add a well-priced section of yoga mats in drug stores," said Richard Belford, director of sales and marketing at Wai Lana. Walgreens features the company's yoga products on its website.
Belford said that mats are the best-selling yoga products, so drug stores should consider adding attractive, mid-priced mats to their mix. "Printed mats, which retail for $14.95, are a good choice for the drug store channel," Belford said.
"An interesting idea is a 'wellness' section with yoga merchandised next to vitamins, supplements and sports nutrition since data shows some crossover in those consumers' purchasing habits," said Brian Smith, partner at Partnership Capital Growth. Smith said an ideal section could also include not only mats and mat wash, towels, bags and yoga books and DVDs, but such ancillary products as Luna and Cliff energy bars and water bottles.
Whole Foods has done well with this approach. More recently, Walgreens has been layering in a three-foot yoga section in many of its stores. The chain's website has a more extensive line of yoga products, including a range of mats, towels and socks.