Reimagining health & beauty in grocery

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By Mary Scianna, Grocery Business


With consumers’ growing interest in health and beauty, grocers should rethink their approach to the category. Grocery Business asks retail industry experts to share their insights on how to enhance the shopping experience.

A holistic approach and a new shopper experience

Consumers have embraced the idea of the one-stop shop and, given the consistent Statistics Canada month-over-month growth in health and beauty categories in 2023, grocers should consider redesigning aspects of their stores to embrace this, says Lisa Hutcheson, managing partner of J.C. Williams Group.

Lisa Hutcheson J.C. WilliamsLisa Hutcheson J.C. Williams

“It can’t be just replacing products in an aisle; it must be something that will create a new experience for that health and wellness shopper. It can be design ideas such as wider aisles, adding more animation to the space with interactive digital displays and end-cap signage, specialty ‘magic’ mirrors for virtual try-ons, replacing standard metal shelving with wooden ones, and introducing greenery into the design to relay the message of health, wellness, and beauty.”

Laura Jacobson, global insights leader for IGD, says she’s observed a “holistic approach” to health and beauty in some grocery retailers.

“Albertson Sincerely Health app launched in February 2023. It’s a health and wellness platform that is being brought to life in the store, taking personal information and tracking data to allow people to set their own goals and reward them. It’s a concept aligned with future trends and it’s about personalization and digitalization.”


Laura JacobsonLaura Jacobson

She cites two other examples of successful holistic approaches: Kroger’s Wellness Festival in the U.S. and Sainsbury’s “A Big Bet on Beauty” in the U.K. “Kroger’s Wellness Festival is a community-minded concept that provides a feel-good factor. In Sainsbury’s “A Big Bet on Beauty,” the retailer revamped the look and feel of its stores, using different, softer lighting and wood-effect shelves. It introduced uniformed, trained beauty advisors with iPads for advice and skin diagnosis to help customers find the best products. It even offers special bags designed for small cosmetics like mascara. Sainsbury’s has created a very different experience from its competitor in the U.K. and it has successfully differentiated itself in this category.”

Leveraging brand partnerships

One cost-effective way to add excitement to the category in-store is to partner with health and beauty brands, says IGD’s Jacobson. Target in the U.S. has partnered with Ulta Beauty for a shop-in-shop concept, which it’s rolling out to more than 800 locations across the country. German drugstore banner Budni has partnered with Edika Makeup to create a beauty box concept in stores. “Both concepts are designed for stop and shop and, depending on the type of partnerships, brands may provide expert staff to help elevate the products and the shopping experience.”

Tapping into DEI and sustainability

One way to enhance the category is to expand product offerings that reflect the diverse range of customer needs.

“We’ve seen a big change in the array of products that better reflect diversity,” says Jacobson. For example, where there was once only one shade of skin colour for bandages, there are now multiple shades to match the skin tones of different people.

Incorporating sustainability into health and beauty can be a big win, adds Hutcheson. For example, introducing sustainability features such as refillable shampoo and skin cream centres, and stocking sustainably sourced cosmetics.

Store design innovation

The most effective way to create an enhanced shopping experience is through store design. IGD has seen an evolution in design among retailers across the globe.

Jacobson cites Asian drugstore chain Watsons and the new healthcare zone it launched in its stores in China.

“Their shopper base is younger, so they launched an online and in-store healthcare zone with a store design to appeal to this demographic,” using bright colours and stocking skincare, healthcare and other products that meet the needs of its younger shopper.

Other examples include Lidl and Sainsbury’s in the U.K., notes Jacobson.

“Lidl introduced clear segmentation and colour navigation to make it simpler and easier for shoppers to find products. Sainsbury’s features end caps that inject fun and grab attention beyond the aisle.”

QR codes are a great way to differentiate the shopping experience, says Hutcheson.

“QR codes got a second life in the pandemic, and placing them strategically in stores can help to enhance the health and beauty shopping experience. It makes shopping more intentional and will bring customers back.”

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Most retailers offer mobile apps to help build customer loyalty. Grocers can extend that loyalty by incorporating health and wellness apps.

  • Personalized recommendations

o   By using customer shopping data, retailers can offer product suggestions tailored to specific needs and help to enhance the overall shopping experience and foster loyalty.

  • Nutrition and allergen alerts

o   An app can provide detailed nutritional facts, product ingredients and allergen alerts to help shoppers make informed decisions and provide a new level of transparency that health-conscious consumers will appreciate.

o   Health-tracking tools such as step counting and calorie tracking, and resources such as meal planning, support customers’ health and wellness goals, making the app a valuable tool they rely on, which leads to increased loyalty.

o   A user-friendly app that incorporates features such as shopping lists, barcode scanning and the ability to easily browse and place orders will improve customer satisfaction and promote loyalty.

o   By offering valuable information related to health and wellness, the retailer positions itself as an expert and trusted resource. Customers appreciate the added value and are more likely to remain loyal to the brand.

o   Integrating community features that allow customers to connect with like-minded individuals, share experiences and exchange recommendations, fosters a sense of belonging and provides a platform people will want to use, which leads to deeper customer engagement.

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