Posted on VitaminRetailer.com - January 2018
Women are more proactive about their health than ever; here’s what they are concerned about and how to best cater to their supplement and wellness needs.
We are living longer and are packing more into our lives than even our most recent ancestors did. And women’s concerns about their wellness, fitness and health have changed over the years. Michela Vagnini, nutritional therapist for Nature’s Plus in New York noted that women’s lives have changed dramatically over the last century. Improvements in diet and lifestyle habits, along with new medical discoveries and therapies have increased life expectancy from 50 in the 1900s to 82 today in the U.S.
“Although the health of the nation has drastically improved, women have many concerns about their health,” Vagnini emphasized. Some of the most common concerns women have are stress, poor sleep and hormonal imbalances, as well as increased longevity, which incites concerns about developing chronic conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes and even cancer.
Meanwhile, she added, more superficial complaints such as poor skin, hair and nails are also concerns women have. “Toxicity and digestive issues may lead to poor skin. In fact, studies have found a strong connection between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and skin problems, including red spots, rosacea, rashes, eczema, wrinkles, acne and dull complexion.”
Amy McKelvey, CEO of California-based her vital way, related that women today are very concerned about stress and hormone-related issues. “Women today are concerned about stress and hormone-related issues, and this is across the board at every stage with a host of symptoms that stem from fluctuating chemical messages that are impacting every cell and tissue in a woman’s body, but primarily GI [gastrointestinal] issues, sleep cycles, water and mineral balance, and nervous system health,” she explained.
McKelvey said she sees a widespread practice where many women are trying to find solutions for symptoms instead of recognizing and addressing the root cause, which is often hormones and the interaction between stress and chemical imbalances. She related that women in their 20s to 50s with whom she has interacted have expressed common complaints of fatigue, heartburn, missed periods, irregular bowel movements, rapid heart rates and anxiety. “There’s a general feeling of being overwhelmed, anxious, and trying to do too much–with an awareness that something is ‘off’ in the body because of symptoms like erratic heartbeats, missed periods, thinning hair or digestive issues,” she said.
Hormonal concerns fall into three areas, noted Marci Clow, MS, RDN, educator for Rainbow Light—reproductive health, PMS and perimenopause/ menopause.
Reproductive Health: Women are becoming more interested in supporting reproductive health, and this can be attributed to many factors including choosing to have children later in life (after age 35), Clow observed. This group of women tend to want products that either support natural conception by supporting normal levels of reproductive hormones or to provide nutritional support with IVF treatments. Meanwhile, younger women of childbearing age want to do everything they can to support natural conception.
PMS: Women often seek herbal remedies to help mitigate symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome, such as cramping, breast tenderness, mood swings, insomnia and fatigue.
Perimenopause/Menopause: This time often brings about very uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes, lowered sex drive, reduced vaginal lubrication, intense mood swings, fatigue, brain fog, forgetfulness and difficulty sleeping. Women in this phase, Clow added, are also concerned about maintaining the health of their reproductive system, bone health, and premature aging. Although not hormonally induced, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a very common concern for women of all ages. According to Sherry Torkos, BSCPHM, holistic pharmacist and consultant to Pharmachem, a division of Ashland, one in five women will have at least one UTI in her lifetime; nearly 20 percent of women who have a UTI will have another, and 30 percent of those will have yet another. “UTIs are the second leading cause of lost work days for women,” she said.
Women’s Multivitamin plus Balance & Energy and Women’s Multivitamin plus Stress Support are multivitamins from Rainbow Light that combine whole foods with a comprehensive blend of vitamins and minerals targeted for promoting energy and managing stress, plus digestive support and targeted botanicals.
New from Rainbow Light (first quarter 2018) is the “1,000 Days” line, which Clow described contains five new prenatal products plus an infant-toddler formula. “This product line was inspired by evidence suggesting that the first 1,000 days between conception and a baby’s second birthday are critical for future health,” she explained. The line includes:
• Preconception Multivitamin, which is formulated to help nourish the female body during the pre-conception phase to prepare for the miracle of producing a new life.
• Trimester 1, Trimester 2 and Trimester 3 Prenatal Multivitamins that are all designed to provide optimal nutritional support specific to the needs for both mom and baby during each of the trimesters.
• Postnatal Multivitamin, which is targeted for post-partum nutritional needs of breast-feeding moms.
“Many women regard a good quality multivitamin as the key to good health,” said Vagnini. Nature’s Plus ‘Source of Life Garden Women’s Multi is an organic wholefood multivitamin that is fully sourced from plants. It includes organic iron from curry leaf, AlgaeCal calcium from algae, and folate derived from organic guava, holy basil and lemon extracts.
Nature’s Plus also manufactures a range of products to support female hormonal health. This includes E fem that contains dong quai, damina and flax lignans to help balance hormones and support menstrual health.
Her vital way, McKelvey stated, now has a “push to educate women of all ages on proper calcium absorption, transportation and availability and how critical this entire exchange is for preventing osteoporosis, along with a drive to promote daily proactive stress support.”
Her vital way’s StrongSea-K features Aquamin sustainable seaweed calcium with magnesium and 72 trace minerals with human clinicals on women, according to McKelvey. It is combined with microencapsulated K2Vital Delta (as MK-7) and D3 for effective calcium absorption and thus healthy bone support.
To address physical and emotional stress, the company offers three products. TurmerZing provides the synergy of curcuminoids and gingerols to target excessive inflammation throughout the body; TrulyActive-B features the highly active forms of key B vitamins—the coenzyme form of B2 and B6, Quatrefolic the biologically active form of folic acid, B12 in the methylcobalamin form that occurs in our cells and in nature, and both niacin and niacinamide; and the adaptogen formula, SchisandraLa. “Schisandra berry helps the body to cope and rebound from stress while aiding the liver and the endocrine system,” McKelvey explained. “Finally, our extra strength, clinically validated L-theanine enhances daily calm and focus while reducing brain fog and anxiety via alpha wave production in the brain.”
California-based Jarrow Formulas has a new probiotic for women, said Sky Garmon, marketing associate. Jarro-dophilus Women contains the four dominant strains found in healthy women, and is clinically proven to support the female vaginal microbiota. “The dominant flora of the vagina are confined to relatively few species, so it’s ideal to supplement with probiotic strains that are actually found in the vaginal tract and have been clinically tested to support vaginal health,” he explained.
Women tend to research, learn, discover and engage with brands and products they trust and love. They respond and interact rather quickly, willing to ask as many questions as necessary in order to make informed decisions.
Retailers can create interactive and exciting environments and programs for their female customers. And, said Vagnini, you should. “In the face of increased online competition, traditional retail stores need to create more excitement and interest at the store level.” There are many promotions and activities that can be tied to women’s health, she said, including seminars, sampling days, demos and merchandising. Aim to ensure these activities coincide with relevant health and awareness months, e.g. breast cancer awareness month, or National Wear Red Day (supporting women’s heart health).
She encouraged retailers to get local experts involved such as gynecologists and other medical doctors, nutritionists, naturopaths, etc., who can speak with authority as they teach about various women’s health issues.
And, Vagnini suggested, cooking demos can encourage women to eat healthily and enable them to learn about new foods and ingredients. “They don’t have to be complicated,” she stressed. “Juicing for health, smoothie sampling, and fun ways to create protein shakes can be a good start and can lead them to purchase.”
And because social conscience is prominent, organizing charity events especially those for women’s health are a great way to show that you are a conscious retailer and that you care about good causes, Vagnini added. “So why not promote an event in your store and have a competition to win a ‘health’ basket containing some of your best-selling products?” McKelvey recommended focusing on one health concern at a time and go deep with each one. Provide information such as statistics and recent studies.
A great idea, she said, is to create comment boards with quotes from women about symptoms, feelings, favorite remedies. “Women are very thoughtful consumers and they’re hungry for real information, not just marketing slogans,” she stated. Place a comment box for women to drop in their contributions, which can be anonymous. And, “encourage humor,” she emphasized. “Most women have an incredible sense of humor and the truer the humor, the better. There is so much that we can all relate to. Use that as a starting point, choose a winner from the comment box and go from there. Make a commitment to be real in whatever approach you choose.”
Clow suggested in-store or online promotions of a wide variety of wholesome foods and other healthy lifestyle practices (yoga mats, water bottles) along with female-targeted supplements and natural remedies, is an effective way to not only-cross merchandise but to help educate women about the importance of a multi-faceted dietary and lifestyle regimen to achieve optimal health and wellness.
She added that because social media interaction is so prominent in most women’s daily lives, “I am also fond of promoting women’s health with ideas such as a 30-day challenge of taking charge of your own health. This project could incorporate multifactorial educational components throughout the 30-day period including recipe tips, encouraging physical activity, tips on hydration, stress management and how to navigate the web for reliable resources on health information,” she explained.
All areas of your establishment are relevant to women—healthy foods, supplements and HBC. Most have a significant other, and or children and pets. Schedule store tours and hand out a little goodie bag of samples. Women who will be impressed and happy you took the time will spread the good word!