Photo courtesy of Sustainable Brands
Photo courtesy of Sustainable Brands

Catering to the Wellness Crowd: How Major Chains Are Upping Their Retail Game

3 min read

With all of the changes the retail industry has seen over the past couple of decades, brick and mortar stores have had to get creative with how they target and retain their customers. Enter the wellness movement, where consumers are voting with their wallets for the kind of world they want: More transparency, can’t-get-this-online experiences and companies that align with their health-conscious values. As the groundswell reaches new heights, major chain stores that may not typically be associated with wellness are upping their retail game to meet these demands—and they hope to surpass expectations.

Meaningful experiences are at the top of the list for retailers, who are constantly battling the convenience of online shopping. For Eileen Fischer, one of the trailblazers in ethical fashion, that includes adding a test retail store in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn that will showcase a large selection of the brand’s Renew and Remade recycled clothing. In addition, the test store—called Making Space—will showcase local artists who use their art to communicate socially conscious messages. It will also be used to host events (including the brand’s LifeWork series) that were once only open for employees, but are now welcoming shoppers into the fold, that focus on mindfulness and other topics.

Discount Retailers Jump In Too

While it’s not a huge stretch for shoppers to imagine such experiences at Eileen Fischer, a brand renowned for its sustainable and ethical business practices (the company is a certified B Corp), consumers will no doubt be more surprised to discover the “Sole Lounge” at DSW, the discount shoe retailer with more than 500 stores. “We see health and wellness as a big opportunity,” Roger Rawlins, CEO of DSW, told Forbes. “People are more aware of their own health and wellness and things… they can do to improve their life, and we can provide our customers with tools and products that can further their well-being.”

To that end, DSW’s “Sole Lounge,” launching in Polaris, Ohio, will offer manicures and pedicures, shoe repair, custom orthotics to support foot, and overall, health. In an attempt to reach the more conscious consumer, the company has begun its DSW Gives program with the Soles4Souls initiative, which accepts gently worn shoes from DSW customers to be distributed to those in need worldwide. Those who participate will earn 50 points in the company’s loyalty rewards program.

From Drugstore to Self-Care Shop

At CVS, shifting consumer experience from “sick care” to “self-care” is underway, with new products by way of sleep tracking devices, supplements and aromatherapy, along with holistic solutions and displays that educate the consumer while positioning CVS as an expert in health care. “Discovery zones” will be central to this new push, allowing customers to explore wireless thermometers, diagnostic scales, digital trackers and natural supplements for those curious about more holistic health management. Four hundred organic food products have also been added to CVS retail stores, giving customers a wider array of healthy options on the go. 

Not to be left out of the mix, LensCrafters is honing its focus on the wellness/tech sector, launching Clarifye, a digitally based, proprietary exam consumers can receive in retail locations. The exam gathers “five times more data on the characteristics of a consumer’s visual health that far eclipses the precision of a standard screening.” LensCrafters hopes to empower consumers to understand more fully their eye health, and to be informed about “underlying health conditions.”

As the retail landscape continues to shift, it’s clear that consumers are driving these changes with their preferences for wellness, long-term health and more ethical, sustainable business practices. As major chains pivot to meet these demands, we can only hope that more conscious consumerism will benefit us all.


Learn more about the changing face of healthcare and the wellness movement here

About The Author

Amy Flyntz

Amy Flyntz

Amy Flyntz is a Brooklyn-based writer and the founder of Amy Flyntz Copywriting. She spends her days weaving words to woo the masses, reading memoirs (and her horoscope) and snuggling with her rescue dog, Linus. Amy can be reached at www.amyflyntz.com.

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