Supermarket Selfcare Solutions

Supermarket Selfcare Solutions

Naomi Sleeper
Vice President Continuous Improvement and Strategic Initiatives
Imperial Distributors


It is that time of year when we replace our holiday indulgences with better-for-you practices. Gyms are packed more than usual, and nutrition becomes a priority (according to Google Trends, the search term “nutrition” has peaked every January over the past 5 years). In recent years, this seasonal and everyday focus on wellness has widened to a more holistic concept: “selfcare.”

A broad concept of selfcare builds on the strong connection between body and mind (supported by increasing neuroscientific evidence of the impact of nutrition, sleep and exercise on mental clarity, for example). Verywell ( identifies five different types of selfcare: physical, social, mental, spiritual and emotional. As healthcare costs continue to rise, selfcare aligns with preventive medicine as a key part of healthcare and social care solutions.

The Global Market Development Center (GMDC) has embraced selfcare as a “global movement” that is “creating a commercial revolution” based on consumers’ desire for the products they purchase to meet their individual needs. According to research by CHPA, Pfizer and GMDC, 79% of shoppers have a “selfcare mindset and mission” toward finding “health solutions and better-for-you options” while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores (A.T. Kearny, 2019). Despite flat unit sales across health, wellness, beauty and personal care, premiumization drove dollar sales growth of 1.5% last year, with sales increases in 19 of 26 selfcare categories, reports GMDC.

Category data in Grocery Business 2020 Nonfoods Handbook provide a detailed look at selfcare categories with the greatest growth. As the number one personal care category in the US (grocery, drug, mass, military, select club & dollar), the soap category (~$5B in sales), dominated by liquid body wash (51.5%), benefited from sales increases of almost 2% year-over-year (YOY), with its greatest growth in liquid hand soap (4.8%). As the second largest beauty & personal care category (~$4B), skin care realized a 4.5% increase, with an impressive 30.8% and 12.9% increase in body anti-aging and facial moisturizer, respectively. The number three category, deodorants, also shows over 6% growth. While bath products (bath fragrance and bubble bath) represent a relatively small category within personal care, this category is up over 14% (in grocery, mass, drug, value and club), compared to a year ago; GMDC reports bath additives up 34% versus last year in brick and mortar retail (including specialty channels). While cosmetics are down overall, subcategories including eyebrow, eye combo lip combo are up, each between about six and eight percent; meanwhile, lip combo sales are up almost 34% versus a year ago. Among the health categories, the greatest growth areas include selfcare sub-categories like gastrointestinal liquids, liquid vitamins & minerals, eye care tablets, adult incontinence, first aid accessories and health remedy tablets.

Growth in selfcare categories point to consumers’ increasing proactivity about health and wellness and their willingness to experiment with goods and services. Expanding beyond conventional health, beauty, wellness and personal care categories, selfcare products can also include apparel (e.g. athleisure), pet pampering and wellness beverages. The holistic notion of selfcare supports relevant experiences, including healthcare, beauty, and grooming services, as well.

As emphasized at GMDC|Retail Tomorrow’s inaugural Healthcare Summit in October, organizing products by selfcare need (e.g. skin care, anxiety and digestive health) is a critical way for retailers to respond to the selfcare movement. For example, some retailers have transitioned from alphabetical organization of supplements to clustering products in this category around health condition, like joint health, to better meet customers’ needs. Expanding on this selfcare solutions-oriented approach to merchandising can lead to great successes for supermarkets.

Supermarkets are well suited to maximize on the selfcare movement. In their 2019 white paper, A.T. Kearney and GMDC indicate how “Selfcare Offers Brick and Mortar Retailers Better Consumer Solutions and a More Competitive Market Position.” According to A.T. Kearney and GMDC, brick and mortar food, drug and mass (FDM) can leverage four key differentiators to compete in selfcare:

1. Customer high trip frequency, providing more opportunities to introduce customers to selfcare offerings
2. Trust in in-store employees who can provide personal in-store selfcare sales service to enhance the shopper experience and guide shoppers to the right products
3. Physical stores to offer selfcare services and experiences (like CVS’s HealthHub and new hair styling and ear piercing services)
4. Customer data and purchase history to personalize customers’ selfcare shopping experience

By leveraging these assets, supermarkets can succeed in providing selfcare solutions to better meet shoppers’ needs.

This is an ideal time for supermarkets to take advantage of their position in the marketplace to benefit from and further drive the selfcare movement. Focusing on selfcare needs and solutions in 2020 is a win-win for consumers and retailers for a happy and healthy new year.