D2C in Health/Wellness CPGs, 2021: Strategic, Social, and Policy Considerations

October 8, 2021  •  David Pring-Mill

The pandemic has highly incentivized D2C business models and digital adaptations, leading to a surge of consumer interest in health/wellness categories, in particular, but this opportunity can be more complex than it initially seems.

Therefore, all CPG brands with products that could be categorized under health/wellness must explore the D2C opportunity with nuance if they want to compete effectively in what is emerging as an integral channel.

This report establishes a market overview of health/wellness CPGs, analyzing the trends, drivers, and trajectory. It goes further than other market research reports by deep diving into the parallels and precedents, considering technological implementations, utilizing an actionable, strategic framework, anticipating practical and brand-related challenges, and leveraging a wide variety of nuanced stories from health/wellness CPG categories.

This unique analysis peels back the layers of digital commerce to reveal the social, political, and even geographical drivers of health/wellness categories and industry practices.

Key Benefits of this Report

The approximately 30,000-word report is structured as follows:

  • Executive Summary: For the time-constrained businessperson, the most salient and actionable points are highlighted here.
  • Fundamental Changes for Categories and Consumers: A large amount of quantitative and qualitative insights on the health/wellness consumer have been aggregated and analyzed in the first section. This section also explores the fundamental ethical questions facing these categories.
  • D2C Health/Wellness Brand Strategies: This section gleans insights from multiple product categories and illuminates CPG strategies by telling the business stories of a premium chocolate brand, a functional chocolate milk, and a fast-growing kombucha, in addition to other industry examples. The section begins with an in-depth exploration of product recategorizations from “vice” to “virtue,” which is a prominent strategy and trend in CPG and clearly evident in D2C CPG. These recategorizations may be benefited by particular pricing and marketing adjustments.
  • Direct Selling Parallels: The report then takes a deep dive into the social and policy drivers of direct selling, indicating the potential relevance to D2C and influencer partnerships in health/wellness categories. This section is also aimed to inspire the reform of problematic practices.
  • Supply Chain Developments and Digital Storytelling: The final section looks at supply chain developments, the relevance of stakeholder theory, and the potential for effective, accountable, digital storytelling in this area.

This report will provide comprehensive answers to the following key questions:

  • How have new technologies transformed the business practices of direct response, mail order, and even direct selling? Which aspects or techniques are still relevant to D2C?
  • How do broader digital ecosystems widen opportunities, augment strategic capabilities, more closely link revenue with quality, increase consumer scrutiny, and exacerbate or expose the fundamental, psychological tensions of health/wellness categories?
  • How has the pandemic acted as a driver of consumption in health/wellness categories, as well as investments in those categories?
  • How are beauty and health/wellness categories blurring even further during the pandemic?
  • How does gender appear to affect perceptions, purchase decisions, and consumption in health/wellness categories?
  • Are the key health/wellness growth drivers sustainable? How can brands and retailers digitally grab attention, set expectations, and create lifestyle associations, without compromising their customer satisfaction or long-term positioning?
  • How might D2C enable the healthier reformulation of products as well as greater supply chain transparency?
  • What were the results of the various health/wellness consumer surveys conducted during the pandemic?
  • As popular notions regarding “self-care” and “wellness” are both commodified and re-conceptualized, within an inherently unwell environment (the global pandemic), how should brands and retailers try to connect with people?
  • What factors contribute to many people’s sporadic attempts at self-care and the widespread belief that their own wellness is, essentially, unattainable in full?
  • How do real or perceived “vice-virtue” product categorizations, or re-categorizations, affect the pricing strategies of brands and retailers?
  • How is D2C a natural enabler of brands that want to redevelop a vice product and position it as healthy (or as less unhealthy)? Why are qualities such as scarcity, nostalgia, and curiosity relevant to this strategy?
  • How should D2C health/wellness brands with resource constraints, or insufficient market share, leverage digital testing, analytics, effective market segmentation, and agile methodologies in order to achieve growth?
  • How are these same brands adapting to overcome the disruptions in their supply chains and brick-and-mortar retail?
  • How are D2C health/wellness brands telling the stories of their supply chains and brand origins through digital content? What are the ethical implications of this?

Target Audience

  • D2C CPG brands
  • CPG brands evaluating their ecommerce/D2C options
  • investors and investment banks
  • government bodies and NGOs focused on health/economic growth

Companies Mentioned in this Report

  • Athena Club
  • Birchbox
  • Bobo’s
  • Health-Ade
  • To’ak Chocolate
  • Slate Milk
  • Super Coffee
  • Starbucks
  • Lululemon Athletica
  • Vagaro
  • Ulta Beauty
  • Whole Foods (Amazon)
  • Walmart
  • Avon
  • Herbalife Nutrition
  • Trustpilot

Methodology

Policy2050 excels at identifying the strategies and patterns within complex data that is gathered through exhaustive secondary and primary research. This process includes publicly available sources, such as annual reports, academic journals, consumer surveys, trade publications, industry symposia, and podcasts, along with interviews and inputs from a wide network of market experts and internal knowledge. Strategic perspectives are leveraged from across the value chain and from relevant tech vendors causing disruptions or reconfigurations in markets.

Information is filtered and validated through this lens of expertise and scrutiny, or contextualized to expose differences in results and industry disagreements. Perceptions of current trends, as reflected in reporting, often translate into actions and investments with consequences. The many hyperlinks included throughout this report help to ensure that important figures, strategic statements, and other market characterizations are easily and fully traceable.

All of this analysis is delivered within an actionable framework that outlines best practices, proposes innovations or adaptations, and extracts insights from case studies. Infographics and imagery are used to express key concepts and enliven this comprehensive overview where appropriate.

Media Kit

The compressed file above contains a copy of the press release alongside infographics, which can be freely used by the news media with attribution. The online press release for the series of D2C reports is visible here. The online press release for the D2C health/wellness report can be found here.

Inquiries can be directed to david.pringmill@policy2050.com.

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