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Hy-Vee HealthMarket melds health, beauty, nutrition

The fact that Hy-Vee uses the terms “customer” and “patient” interchangeably says it all. It underscores how food and health go hand in hand throughout the food retailer’s operations, marketing and merchandising. It’s also among the factors that contributed to Drug Store News naming Hy-Vee its 2018 Retailer of the Year.

Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in the company’s new Hy-Vee HealthMarket, a drug store of the future that also serves as a health-focused community grocery store and incorporates an on-site fitness studio. The 18,000-sq.-ft. store — including the 2,800-sq.-ft. Orangetheory Fitness center — based at the company’s headquarters in West Des Moines, Iowa, reflects the ongoing evolution of Hy-Vee as an integral part of the communities it serves.

Hy-Vee describes HealthMarket as a “lifestyle” store — a destination built around wall-to-wall health-and-wellness offerings.

New initiatives
Hy-Vee’s HealthMarket store features several new merchandising initiatives in the pharmacy/healthcare area, including Hy-Vee’s first hearing clinic and its first test of an expanded vitamin and sports nutrition section. The store also contains a diagnostic health clinic — one of roughly 70 that Hy-Vee currently has in its stores — located adjacent to the pharmacy and staffed by clinical nurses, who can perform a range of tests and screenings and offer such services as vaccinations.

Both the hearing clinic, which offers free diagnostic testing, and the expanded departments are being considered for expansion into traditional Hy-Vee supermarkets. For Hy-Vee, the stand-alone HealthMarket store — which there are currently 179 of the store-within-a-store HealthMarket departments across the company’s traditional supermarket base — reflects the cutting edge of its health-and-wellness merchandising strategy.

“You will see a lot of things as we expand the HealthMarket store concept mirrored in our HealthMarket departments in the store, as well,” said Aaron Wiese, vice president of HealthMarkets and health and wellness strategy at Hy-Vee.

“We are excited about the breadth of product in the HealthMarket store,” he said, noting that it has become a destination for consumers seeking to live a healthy lifestyle. “With the increased square footage, we are able to bring a lot more variety. There’s so much innovation and excitement right now in this area in terms of product development. We’re curating and developing the merchandising plan around new categories and emerging pieces.”

Located in a moderately upscale area that includes a mix of residential and office buildings, the HealthMarket draws a mix of shoppers throughout the day, store director Matt Pertzborn said on a recent store tour with Drug Store News. The store attracts shoppers seeking refreshments after a workout at Orangetheory Fitness; local residents conducting grocery, healthcare and beauty care shopping; and office workers picking up items to bring home at the end of the day, he said.

The freestanding HealthMarket design provides the opportunity for Orangetheory Fitness customers to come into the store after a workout. The fitness center, which can be accessed directly through the store, is located near the HealthMarket’s expanded VMS area and across from a beverage bar offering cold-brewed coffee on tap, flavored waters and several varieties of kombucha, all available by the glass or to take home in growlers.

“We are excited to look at how we can expand our partnership with Orangetheory Fitness and reach more customers, while we help them meet their overall health-and-wellness goals,” Wiese said.

To that end, the HealthMarket in-store dietitian works directly with the customers of Orangetheory Fitness to help them with any dietary concerns they may have.

“It’s an added benefit for the customers who are working out there,” Wiese said.

Holistic view of wellness
Partnering with Orangetheory Fitness reflects the company’s approach to health and wellness, Wiese said.

“We’ve always done food really well, in terms of looking out for the health and wellness of the customer, but it’s really about balance,” he said. “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, and you can’t just eat your way to health.

“So, for us the integration of our HealthMarket food offerings, our dietitians in the stores, our pharmacies, our clinics and partnering with a brand like Orangetheory Fitness — it is about giving our customers a convenient offering,” Wiese said. “You have a captive audience who cares about their health.”

The grocery department also ties into the overall theme of wellness in the store, with a large selection of natural, organic and
better-for-you options. While the store carries a limited range of conventional grocery offerings, and lacks such service departments as a bakery and deli, the emphasis definitely is on the healthier and better-for-you products. Bulk foods are featured prominently and are located near the Orangetheory Fitness studio.

Nearly every endcap in the grocery area features displays of healthy items, organic options and similar fare, and products throughout the store are called out with signage labeled “Dietitian’s Choice.” In the produce area, for example, a “Dietitian’s Choice” sign suggested pairing an apple with Justin’s Nut Butter “for a post-workout snack.”

Along one wall of the store is a row of refrigerated reach-in cases, featuring heat-and-eat meals, as well as some Hy-Vee Mealtime meal kits that require some at-home preparation and are ready in about 30 minutes.

The ready-made meals, prepared at local full-sized Hy-Vee supermarkets and delivered to the HealthMarket daily, include another first for the chain — meals that are specifically developed to meet the needs of customers with dietary restrictions, including offerings that are diabetic-friendly and heart healthy.

The meals have been a tremendous success, Wiese said. The prepared meals section had to be restocked several times on the store’s first day of operation, he said, and customers have been requesting even more varieties in the assortment, including meals that are designed for those on vegan or paleo diets.

Many of the products and concepts the company has tested at the freestanding HealthMarket are being considered for expansion at the company’s traditional supermarket locations, such as the expanded kombucha bar.

“That has been a surprise hit for us in that store,” said Wiese, who noted that several traditional Hy-Vee locations currently feature kombucha on a single tap. “There are all kinds of exciting things we are looking at expanding based on this initial run here in West Des Moines.”

Blending in beauty
The store’s focus on wellness comes alongside a strong emphasis on beauty. Hy-Vee’s partnership with the Basin brand of bath and body care products is literally front and center in the HealthMarket, greeting customers at the main entrance with its signature colorful glass tube of bubbles.

hyvee beauty“I think it all goes hand in hand,” Pertzborn said. “When you feel good about yourself, you are more likely to do things that are healthy for your body, and when you eat healthy,
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