GMDC|Retail Tomorrow, A.T. Kearney Deliver Findings on Selfcare’s Transformation of Brick-and-Mortar Retail

Research Study Delivers Insights into Growth Opportunities among Traditional and Nonconventional Selfcare Categories

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Leading retail industry trade association Global Market Development Center (GMDC)|Retail Tomorrow, in partnership with global strategy and management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, has released the results of its first annual 2019 Selfcare Benchmarking Study. The study provides emerging industry insights into how selfcare — the mindset and lifestyle that inspire consumers to embrace proactive life choices through investment in accessible wellness and better-for-you methods — is driving retail transformation.

The report, which analyzes market data from the GMDC|Retail Tomorrow/Nielsen Hierarchy tool and the association’s aggregated retail member surveys and interviews, was recently released at the GMDC|Retail Tomorrow 2019 Selfcare Summit, the industry’s only gathering focused exclusively on the consumerization of healthcare.

The research indicates that within health, beauty, wellness, and personal care, sales grew at 1.5% between 2017 and 2018. This growth was driven by premiumization, as the average price increased but volume remained largely flat. Of the 26 categories, 19 of those viewed as selfcare displayed year-over-year sales increases at brick-and-mortar retailers. Further, the study finds 75% of Americans are more likely to purchase medicine and healthcare products in-store and 90% of American Generation Z shoppers prefer to buy cosmetics in-store.

The selfcare market is poised for robust growth within physical retailers. Not only do brick-and-mortar retailers capture a dominant share of the selfcare market, but also online penetration is lower relative to general merchandise. Conventional categories including bath and shower, adult incontinence, ear care, family planning, vitamins and supplements, and skincare all showed brick-and-mortar sales growth double the average rate.

Yet the report uncovers further growth opportunities in nonconventional categories, which are growing faster than traditional health and beauty categories in large part because they are better aligned with the evolution of consumer thinking. For example, athleisure grew by 8% between 2017 and 2018, and pet pampering is forecast for 5% market growth from 2018 to 2023.

“Selfcare consumers are proactive, place an emphasis on prevention, and are open to experimenting with new brands, categories and services,” said Jason Maehara, manager at A.T. Kearney. “The selfcare movement’s impact on retail is undeniable, with 79% of consumers showing a selfcare mindset and mission when they visit brick-and-mortar retail. The average American spends $199 on nonessential items to ‘treat themselves’ every month, equivalent to 22% of the consumer’s disposable income.”

In order to tap into this unrealized potential for robust growth, the report suggests that brick-and-mortar retailers rethink how they position themselves in response to customers’ evolving preferences. Food, drug and mass (FDM) retailers are inherently better positioned to cater to customers’ broadened selfcare needs due in large part to high trip frequency that can be leveraged to introduce customers to selfcare offerings. Based on the findings, the report suggests that physical retailers:

  • Gain customer trust through store employees providing real-time and personal in-store selfcare experiences.
  • Use brick-and-mortar stores to pilot and roll out new products, categories and experiences.
  • Employ data assets, such as loyalty programs and purchase history, to facilitate the creation of personalized offerings.
  • Leverage partnerships to address selfcare challenges and quickly build capabilities.
  • Restructure to function across categories with selfcare product managers focused on curating and managing cross-category selfcare solutions.

“At GMDC|Retail Tomorrow, we take pride in our leadership within the burgeoning selfcare space while we help steer retail’s transformation to embrace the consumerization of healthcare,” said Patrick Spear, president and CEO of GMDC|Retail Tomorrow. “We help our members tap into some of the industry’s first consumer insights regarding selfcare, in order to focus on increasing their share of existing categories and capture the explosive growth of emerging, innovative categories.”

For more on the 2019 GMDC|Retail Tomorrow Selfcare Benchmarking Study, see the full report here. GMDC|Retail Tomorrow’s 2020 Selfcare Summit, the only industry gathering focused exclusively on the consumerization of healthcare, will be held October 1-5. For more information, please visit: