The health and wellness landscape has undergone a remarkable transformation in the wake of the global pandemic. Consumer behaviors have shifted, priorities have evolved, and retailers have had to adapt swiftly to meet these changing needs. In a recent podcast interview hosted by Greg Sleter, Executive Editor of Storebrands, Muriel Gonzalez, President of The Vitamin Shoppe, shed light on the post-pandemic health and wellness market, discussing key trends, challenges, and strategies for success.
You can watch the podcast here:
1. Understanding the New Normal: A Shift in Consumer Focus
One undeniable truth that has emerged from the pandemic is the continued emphasis on health and wellness. However, as Muriel Gonzalez pointed out, the nature of this focus has evolved. “The interest in health and fitness has not waned,” Gonzalez emphasized, “but we’re selling different products now than we were during the pandemic.” Initially, demand for immunity-boosting products like zinc soared, reflecting consumers’ heightened concerns about their immune systems. As people returned to their routines, the emphasis shifted towards a more holistic approach to wellness. Protein, creatine, and greens took center stage as individuals embraced a comprehensive view of health and fitness.
2. Navigating Inflation Challenges: The Rise of Private Brands
The pandemic’s disruptive impact on supply chains and the subsequent rise in inflation presented significant challenges for retailers. Gonzalez acknowledged that Vitamin Shoppe had to navigate these challenges by adopting a nimble approach, particularly in managing prices for their private brand products. “We definitely saw more use of coupons, we saw customers respond more to promotions,” Gonzalez noted. In response, The Vitamin Shoppe placed a renewed focus on developing and expanding its private brand offerings. This approach allowed them to maintain their commitment to quality, innovation, and expertise, even in the face of adversity.
And they’re not alone. A recent report from FMI found that eight in 10 retailers will increase investments in private brand products moderately or significantly over the next two years. That increased level of investment should fill some gaps in the marketplace as only 10% of those same respondents said their companies are “very far along” with innovation.
3. The Influencer Effect: Social Media and Trending Products
In the digital age, social media and influencers wield remarkable influence over consumer trends. Gonzalez highlighted the symbiotic relationship between The Vitamin Shop and these influential platforms. “When things go viral on TikTok, a lot of customers do come to us,” she shared. This acknowledgment of the influencer effect has enabled Vitamin Shop to not only ensure product availability but also to provide customers with reliable, accurate information about trending products. Their role as a trusted source of education has further cemented their position in the health and wellness market.
4. Driving Innovation: Flavors, Partnerships, and Trends
Innovation remains a driving force in the health and wellness industry, particularly in categories like energy drinks and hydration products. Gonzalez underscored the pivotal role of flavor innovation and partnerships in making products more appealing to consumers. Brands like Ghost and Prime have leveraged collaborations and introduced exciting new flavors to captivate audiences. Additionally, the emergence of “stick packs” has transformed the concept of hydration, making it convenient and enjoyable for individuals on the go.
5. Future Growth: A Vision for Expansion
Looking ahead, Gonzalez offered insights into The Vitamin Shoppe’s growth strategy. Franchising has become a cornerstone of their expansion plans, with seven franchise stores already in operation. As part of a larger franchise group, Vitamin Shoppe is poised to continue expanding its footprint and bringing its commitment to health and wellness to new communities.
In a world reshaped by the pandemic, the health and wellness market has proven its resilience and adaptability. As Muriel Gonzalez eloquently stated, “The interest in health and fitness is not something that’s going away.” By recognizing evolving consumer behaviors, responding to inflation challenges, leveraging the power of influencers, fostering private brand innovation, and embracing strategic growth, The Vitamin Shoppe exemplifies a retailer that is not only weathering change but thriving in a dynamic landscape.