Holland & Barrett champions gut health education with a holistic wellness mission

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Holland & barrett Gut health holistic nutrition microbiome

Gut health education means communicating with consumers about holistic wellness, not individual supplements, according to health and wellness retail giant Holland & Barrett.

“We distinguish ourselves by being mission-led, developing cross-category product propositions to address wellness needs, relying on science for product efficacy, and offering comprehensive health and wellness solutions,” Guy Farmer, commercial director at H&B told the audience at Probiota, the NutraIngredients event held in Milan this month.

To improve mission-led shopping experiences, H&B has reduced its stock from over 5,000 SKUs, to 4,000.

“Through studying baskets and setting up trial stores, we found that a streamlined product range improves the shopping experience, making it less overwhelming for customers and allowing products to be displayed more effectively on shelves,” Farmer said.

The consolidation also enables H&B to focus on its selling point of providing a complete solution for customers' needs, he added. 

Wellness missions

The focus must be on addressing consumers' wellness needs by emphasizing tangible benefits, such as improving health, alleviating joint aches and aiding in weight management, rather than discussing specific solutions like vitamins, explained Georgina White, director of insight.

“Consumers understand more than we think, but they also understand less than they know, so we have to make it very simple for them,” she added.

The conversation needs to shift to holistic wellness for consumers to better grasp what 'gut health' supplements mean for their health.

Through education, customers are becoming increasingly more aware of the interconnectedness of various health aspects, particularly with the example of gut health influencing overall well-being.

This is why H&B has an in-house training department that creates specific modules for their colleagues, Farmer added, in which new employees follow a two-year plan covering fundamentals of health and wellness, culminating in a qualification to advise. 

“What resonates most with customers is our ability to discuss benefits rather than just technology, demonstrated by successful case studies,” Farmer said. “This approach has proven effective in a marketplace where conveying benefits is key to success, and it's a strategy that works well for us.”

Segmentation strategies

H&B has introduced a segmentation strategy to understand how consumers approach wellness, distinguishing between proactive consumers like ‘energy seekers’ and ‘physical movers’, and reactive consumers like ‘wellness battlers’ and ‘contented lifers’.

Energy seekers are busy individuals with numerous wellness missions, while physical movers prioritize nutrition and exercise, and are more likely to feel the impact when they miss a workout.

For the reactive consumers, H&B’s mission is to support and educate them to understand the benefits of certain products, White noted.

And across the globe, differences are evident in how consumers like to be communicated with about gut health, White added, noting: “In Japan, gut health supplementation is about helping them feel better in day-to-day life, whereas in Australia it’s about improving their digestive health, and in Germany it's about improving immunity.”

These differences across different countries (and generations) boil down to societal and cultural differences.

“What's important is that you need to tap into the reasons most relevant to customers in each of those markets to give them the right solutions,” White concluded. 

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