Will Walmart’s online wellness hub produce healthy returns?

Discussion
Source: The Wellness Hub - Walmart.com
Aug 26, 2020
George Anderson

Walmart Wellness Live, a three-day online health and wellness event, will kick off on Friday with the goal of providing customers with simple ways to improve their lives through better nutrition, exercise and mental health activities.

The first event will feature singer Patti LaBelle, who will talk about her personal journey through diagnosis and treatment of type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease that affects more than three million Americans, based on numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the disorder most frequently affects people over 45, there have been growing incidences among children, teens and young adults along with a surge in obesity among the U.S. population.

Dr. Juan Rivera, a cardiologist and chief medical correspondent for Univision, will share information on heart health resources on Saturday along with recommendations for diet and exercise to lower blood pressure, a key contributor to coronary disease.

Dr. Christine Crawford, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine, will be on hand on Sunday to advise viewers on how to talk to family members about mental health needs, particularly at a time when so many Americans are dealing with anxiety and stress related to the pandemic. She will discuss how to understand and deal with anxiety-related behaviors.

“We are worried about a secondary health crisis, as many people put off routine medical care while they social distance during the pandemic. But there are simple, preventive measures that can help manage many of these health issues,” Dr. Tom Van Gilder, Walmart chief medical officer, said in a statement. “Our goal is to empower every American to take small steps to maximize their health from home, whether it’s a simple ingredient swap, new exercise or tools to understand how to focus on health as a family.”

Walmart introduces its program at a time when new research from Label Insight and FMI shows that omnichannel grocery shoppers are making purchases with a diet or health issue in mind.

Sixty-seven percent of online grocery shoppers “place a high level of importance on the health benefits of products,” according to the survey of 1,000 consumers. Fifty-three percent, however, say it is challenging or extremely challenging to determine online whether a product meets their dietary goals.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are American consumers at this time looking for more health content online from retailers and brands? What types of content do you think are most important to move the sales needle for foods and other health and wellness-related products?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"My knee jerk reaction was 'sure, wellness tips from Walmart is what America needs…' The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to pull the sarcasm out of that remark."
"The question hints at the notion that this health advice is some form of clever infomercial to raise health and wellness sales. I hope that’s not true."
"Walmart continues to impress. This bold online wellness event may fall short of “perfect” results, but the commitment and intent is to be celebrated."

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15 Comments on "Will Walmart’s online wellness hub produce healthy returns?"


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Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

I am guessing this can be an extension of something like Teladoc, only perhaps there will be options to buy those recommendations made on the platform at your nearest Walmart?

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

Walmart continues to impress. This bold online wellness event may fall short of “perfect” results, but the commitment and intent is to be celebrated. For those consumers taking the time to focus on their health and well-being (physically and emotionally), Walmart Wellness Live will deliver! Self-care has never been more important and Walmart is once again demonstrating that they want to be a vital part of the solution. I’m not sure how far the needle will move from a sales standpoint. However from a market positioning and accessibility standpoint, this event is priceless.

Evan Snively
BrainTrust

My knee jerk reaction was “sure, wellness tips from Walmart is what America needs…” but the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to pull the sarcasm out of that remark.

Maybe wellness tips from Walmart IS what America needs. Bite size (no pun intended) content which is easy to digest (OK maybe subconsciously these are intended) coming from a source where consumers find themselves is exactly the type of nudge that might have a chance to connect. I don’t think it will hurt the health cause, and if there is a chance to widen the breadth of items consumers buy at Walmart, that will be a win for the brand as well.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I am honestly not convinced that a significant number of people will look to Walmart as their wellness guide, but I applaud the effort nonetheless. The more informed we are as consumers, the better choices we can make. In addition to the health information campaign, I would love to see an expanded push by Walmart to expand the assortment of healthy options in their aisles. Regardless, at a minimum, perhaps this wellness event will help to begin shifting brand expectations of Walmart (even if just slightly), toward being thought of as more of a partner in wellness.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

I hope they won’t look to Walmart for their information, other than talking to pharmacists at the pharmacy.

Jeff Weidauer
BrainTrust

Walmart continues its expansion into new territories. From parking lot drive in theaters, now to online medical information, the company has been bold with its ideas and their execution. Not all will take hold, but there is a clear intent to reach out and be there for consumers. I am looking forward to more innovation from the Bentonville team.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

I am sure Walmart is well intentioned. But as a father and husband of healthcare professionals, it scares me.

So much information will be misinterpreted and ultimately misused. Healthcare is not entertainment and this feels like bits and bites rather than serious information.

Raj B. Shroff
BrainTrust

I think American consumers are looking for more health content they can believe in and realistic goals they can pursue. They are likely not seeing the doctor on a regular basis, only when sick. If done responsibly, there is a clear path for retailers and brands to offer that content and guidance.

As for content, I think leaning into wellness and preventative approaches makes the most sense so any content to help with that would be great. As IOT and health tracking devices become more prevalent, retailers are poised to create entire ecosystems of content, tracking/monitoring, products and services. Maybe even giving loyalty points for people getting steps in at their stores! Great move by Walmart as they are a voice many Americans listen to and the health crisis is real.

Bindu Gupta
BrainTrust

The pandemic has made consumers think of their health more seriously and use the time that they saved from commuting to spend on cooking and exercising. As a result, it is likely that they are looking for health content online but it is also true that the abundance of content makes it overwhelming and confusing for them on who to trust. If Walmart brings in the experts who can provide their unbiased health and nutrition advice, that might resonate better with the consumers.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

A for effort, Walmart, maybe a C minus for impact. At least 40 percent of Americans don’t trust Dr. Fauci or other recognized health experts, and that’s just counting conservatives, so why exactly are they going to be taking health tips from Patti LaBelle? In a nation where the President shills homeopathic remedies for viral pandemics, the media brings them contradictory health messaging, and even the CDC can’t seem to get its act together, people don’t trust authority – especially medical authority – in the same way they did even four years ago. The question hints at the notion that this health advice is some form of clever infomercial to raise health and wellness sales. I hope that’s not true. The right answers to improving the health of the average American remain the same as they were pre-COVID-19, improve your diet and increase your exercise. And just look at how many people picked up on that simple advice.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

With the amount of cynicism and doubt about the veracity of information, will consumers trust Walmart for health information? Consumers may want more health information but there is a lot of health related information offered on the TV news, social media, from friends, through advertising, online, and print media — do consumers want more information and more sources, or information from trusted sources? Will Walmart be viewed as a trusted source or as a source trying to sell products?

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

People want content these days — the home life is getting a bit dull without outside adventure. So this sounds like a wise move by Walmart. That it’s about health seems less about “customer demand” and more a viable reason to host some big name folks and pull together a noticeable three-day event.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

The Instant Poll question — for which this is the only unanimous response I can recall — seems a little peculiar: if we asked “how well do most retailers answer customer’s plumbing questions?” I expect the (similarly unanimous) response would be “that’s not their job.” So the question, I think, should be “what role, if any should retailers play in dispensing medical advice/information?”

And I don’t really have THE answer. On the one hand, a large retailer like Walmart or any national grocer or discounter really, has considerable resources and is in frequent contact with large segments of the public (many of whom have little/no regular contact with regular medical providers); but OTOH, it ISN’T a medical provider — translation: it has many, possibly contradictory, agendas. The comment about “moving the sales needle” put my “concern needle” in the red.

Rachelle King
BrainTrust
Kudos to Walmart for moving Wellness Days online. Great opportunity to perhaps reach even more consumers with their long-standing commitment to help customers live better. Right now, Americans are looking for anything that will keep them safe and sane during this pandemic. There is much to be considered about, like stress eating and the often joked about pandemic weight gain. These are real issues on top of pre-existing health concerns like diabetes and obesity. Retailers and brands need to make meaningful connections with their customers right now and this is one way to do it. What is more relevant or meaningful right now than health and wellness? Content that focuses on staying healthy during this pandemic could help move the sales needle from at-home workout equipment to vitamins and supplements. Also, content that offers tips to deal with stress and anxiety, like keeping a journal or even soothing teas, may also nudge the sales needle. Either way, it’s a meaningful endeavor that may reach many who have been reluctant to seek medical care during this… Read more »
Brian Cluster
BrainTrust

Walmart is being bold with this effort to bring more awareness to the health crisis that is facing American consumers. This underlying health crisis is obesity. Many times this can be controlled and education may help a segment of consumers to take the necessary steps.

There is a Harvard study out this year that cited that 40% of Americans are obese. And there is a linkage from obesity to the COVID crisis because obese people are more likely to have diabetes or some type of heart condition. Those pre-existing conditions can increase the impact that the Coronavirus can have on people. There is a linkage there and grocers, food manufacturers and mass merchants and online retailers all can play a role in providing health education and solutions to help consumers make more informed decisions to improve their health.

Walmart should be applauded for this effort because they are getting to the root of the issue and trying to provide solutions to help society at large.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"My knee jerk reaction was 'sure, wellness tips from Walmart is what America needs…' The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to pull the sarcasm out of that remark."
"The question hints at the notion that this health advice is some form of clever infomercial to raise health and wellness sales. I hope that’s not true."
"Walmart continues to impress. This bold online wellness event may fall short of “perfect” results, but the commitment and intent is to be celebrated."

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