INSIDE BOARDROOM: Q&As with the Authors part 4

How Should You Be Approaching Healthcare in a Retail Food Setting?

Recently FMI, in partnership with global consulting firm Oliver Wyman, jointly released a compilation journal of strategic insights to help senior executives successfully guide their companies in this ever-changing food retail environment.

Boardroom is comprised of original perspectives from leading experts in food retail on a selection of the most critical issues executives must confront in boardrooms across the country and around the world. We are excited to share a series of Q&As with various authors from papers included in the journal that will give an expanded perspective on the key topics.

In the fourth part of our series, I spoke with Graegar Smith, principal in Oliver Wyman’s Health & Life Sciences Practice, on retail healthcare and new findings from Oliver Wyman’s survey on consumers’ experiences with alternative sites of care.

I hear you recently refreshed your survey “The New Front Door to Healthcare is Here.” Can you share some new findings?

Graegar Smith:We probed on consumers’ willingness to use grocery as a site for health and wellness versus other retail sites. We found consumers would seek these services at a drugstore, but not a grocery store. While consumers’ association of medicine with drugstores is clear, we wonder why supermarkets are not being seen by consumers as a destination for health and wellness? While grocery stores, at their essence, sell nutrition which is essential for health, consumers do not think of them as natural locations for health and wellness products and services. How to make and enhance this connection between grocery and health and wellness is both the challenge and the opportunity for grocers today.

What about retail healthcare do you find most exciting?

Smith: Food retail is a natural fit for the trends we are seeing in population health. Healthcare is now focused on cost, quality, outcomes, and more convenient sites of care delivery. Food retail is especially well placed to serve this trend, as store locations were specifically chosen for convenience.

The voice of the consumer is clear from our survey; they want alternative sites to the traditional doctors’ office or hospital emergency room. For food retailers, the opportunity stretches beyond the store. Retail health strategies will need to connect with other components of the healthcare ecosystem, which leads us to think about partnerships and alliances amongst retailers, care providers and insurers.  By connecting the various healthcare pieces, food retailers can create an unprecedented and convenient consumer healthcare experience.

If you were a grocer today looking at this environment, how would you approach retail healthcare?

Smith: I can image in many grocery boardrooms, the prevailing question is “what is the future of retail pharmacy for us?” And I do believe that is warranted. But it goes back to a broader piece: how am I, as a multi-specialist, going to support my customers’ interest in healthy living and healthy lifestyles? I recommend grocers consider how to combine pharmacy services, healthy foods, and nutrition advice as the base for a differentiated health and wellness offer.

Anything else you want to add for the FMI audience?

Smith: I would like to emphasize the role trade partners can play in developing the consumers’ interest in relying on retail delivered healthcare. Health and wellness can be a transformative force in what a store looks like and sells. In order to make a compelling overall healthy store offering, you need to tackle the question of how to reinvent the center store. The CPG companies realize this, and they will be there to support the move towards health and wellness. I would encourage FMI members to collaborate with their trade partners in making this transition, as those trade partners have great insight on what consumers need, want, do and what problems they are suffering from. If we’re talking about developing a compelling new experience in the store, you want those voices represented as well.

*This interview is the fourth of a six-part Q&A series between FMI executives and Oliver Wyman partners on the inaugural issue of our joint journal Boardroom.

By Sue Borra, Chief Health and Wellness Officer, Executive Director FMI Foundation, Food Marketing Institute