Target dog Unleash-Your-HealthRetailers in the U.S. are morphing into health destinations in 2016.

Members of Target’s management team attended the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and shared their perspectives in the company blog. Among the Target teams observations came from the Chief Marketing Officer, Jeff Jones, who observed, “A tidal wave of newness is coming to fitness technology and many companies are on the cusp of changing the game. From nutrition and sleep to how you exercise, it’s all going to be measured, linked and tracked. Wearables are here to stay and getting smarter every year.” The Senior Vice President for Hardlines, Scott Nygaard, noted, “Whether it’s personalized 3D-printed headphones, health and wellness products with personal diagnostics, or other connected app-based products including TVs, consumers will be able to customize their lives.”

Target is one retailer that gets health, with its recent bolstering of healthy food in its grocery aisles discussed here in Health Populi. Target will be joined by other retailers in 2016 who will gear up for health in several segments including Fitness, Health/care, Food, and Living Well.

Under Armour Watson ces_2016_under_armour_ibm_watsonOn the fitness front, Under Armour‘s latest announcements include a partnership with IBM/Watson Health, who will mash-up fitness and other data presented in the app, UA Record. The vision is for the user’s activities of daily living — sleep, steps, food consumption, and other metrics — to be analyzed and then compared with one’s peers. Under Armour announced other initiatives at CES 2016 including the UA HealthBox, a connected fitness system for athletes including the UA Band, UA Scale, and UA Heart Rate devices. UA also launched its first smart shoe which logs and stores data such as activity duration, distance, and date.

What’s important to recognize about UA’s efforts is the company’s growing digital health data ecosystem for some 160 million users (according to its press release): the company’s goal is to paint a 360-degree picture of the user’s activity, fitness, nutrition and sleep. Readers of Health Populi will remember my take on UA’s purchase of My Fitness Pal, which has been my favored foot-tracking app for several years.

The launch of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines from the USDA is an opportunity for food retailers to educate their shoppers as health consumers. In so doing, groceries are morphing into wellness destinations and have been for some time. The new food guidelines will give further impetus and rationale to this strategy. Fitmarket logo AndronicosAndronico’s “FitMarket” and FitBank project embraces this trend. By working out at Sweat.Works Global Gym, Andronico’s shoppers can log workout times and earn rewards to spend at Andronico’s. These include:

  • “Good on ya!” = 4 workouts over a 4-week stretch = $5 Andronico’s Gift Card
  • “Breaking a sweat!” = 8 workouts over a 4-week stretch = $25 Andronico’s Gift Card
  • “SWEAT 16!” = 16 workouts over a 4-week stretch = $100 Andronico’s Gift Card.

CVS dosomethingThe new retail pharmacy is also stretching into a health destination, growing beyond the back-of-store prescription drug channel to a front-of store purveyor of healthy foods, health goods and services like kiosks that measure (and digitally track) more than blood pressure. On the service front, immunizations and travel shots have been a growing revenue source for pharmacies. CVS/health launched a smoking cessation program this week with, featuring a popular music duo, Kalin and Myles. This extends CVS’s smoke-free mission, announced last year, to younger people who have taken up the expensive and medically dumb habit of smoking. Here’s a video on the Quitters Always Win project. If you click on the link, you can personalize an e-card and send it to a smoker you love (by 31st January 2016)


Walgreens Advocate healthcare_clinicOn the growing retail health services front, Walgreens is selling 56 of the pharmacy chain’s retail clinics to Advocate Health in Chicagoland. These clinics will all operate under the Advocate Health brand. The Chief Medical Officer of Advocate Health, Dr. Lee Sacks, said of the deal, “With Walgreens’ unmatched footprint coupled with our leading clinical expertise and commitment to delivering high quality, affordable health care, more patients will have access to the best care when and where they need it.” Advocate Health System is the largest healthcare delivery network in the state of Illinois.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  The growth of consumer-directed health care in a high-deductible world is moving patients into the role of health consumers. At the same time, people see convenience, access, value-based pricing, and understandable formats for consumer goods, and health care is taking its place in the consumer goods category as out-of-pocket costs and responsibility for first-dollar payment proliferates health care markets.

Watch this market space to continue to grow, and for partnerships to grow, too, between traditional/legacy health care providers (à la the Advocate Health deal with Walgreens) and new entrants looking to play a role in the expanding, consumer-facing retail health ecosystem.

Post Script 1-11-16 530 PM ET – Subsequent to posting this, I learned that Kmart launched a health and fitness effort that brings the discounter into this expanding ecosystem. Here’s the link to Kmart promotes fun, fitness, loyalty.