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Reiser's Pieces: GLP-1 Drugs Shake Up the Retail Scene


As the world of healthcare spins ever forward, we're seeing GLP-1 drugs—yes, those same ones known for battling diabetes—now taking on obesity with a vengeance. Ozempic, Wegovy, Zepbound –These semaglutide medications are the new celebrities of the pharmaceutical world, and they’re getting serious buzz.


They work by tricking the brain into thinking it's full, curbing appetites, and leading to some impressive medical results and weight loss stories. But they’re not just transforming waistlines; they're reshaping consumer shopping behaviors and disrupting the food, beverage, supplement, and OTC sectors, as well as many other categories across retailing.

With some projections suggesting that up to 15 million people, or 13% of the U.S. population will be using GLP-1 medications by 2030, the ripple effects are undeniable.

It's time for manufacturers and retailers to pay even more attention because the landscape is continuing to change, and it's going to be a wild ride!

 

Savvy retailers are responding, adjusting their shelves and strategies to align with these new consumer desires. Some are actually adding GLP-1s to their offering – see my old stomping grounds, The Vitamin Shoppe! Startups are jumping in with products that fill the demand for the 3Ps – in this case, Protein-rich, Portion-controlled, and Plentiful hydration. They’re also turning shopping aisles into educational spaces, where consumers can learn how to pair their prescriptions with the right food and supplements for a healthier lifestyle – through an experience that educates, engages, and excites.

 

So, what’s trending now?

  • More Than Quick Fixes:  It’s not just about losing weight anymore. Consumers are embracing products that promote overall health and fit into a lifestyle that’s all about sustainable health rather than quick fixes. Losing the weight and keeping it off!

  • Hello, Supportive Sidekicks:  There’s a surge in products that play nice with GLP-1s—think dietary fibers, nutritional shakes, and low-calorie treats that keep things fun and tasty.

  • Good Things in Small Packages:  GLP-1 patients are seeking smaller, nutrient-rich portions packed with protein.

  • Putting Side Effects to Rest:  Consumers are on the hunt for hydration aids and products to quell nausea and other GI side effects. At the same time, Beauty, Wellness, and Fitness brands are finding opportunities with offerings addressing concerns over muscle degradation and perceptions of facial sagging and premature aging.

  • There’s Always an Alternative:  Not everyone can afford or wants to take a medication. Supplement, food, and beverage brands are working to provide options that appeal to these consumers as well.


As Ozempic and similar drugs gain traction, we all face new challenges but also exciting new opportunities. Ultimately, success hinges on vigilantly observing the evolving trends and developing a deep understanding of the dynamic consumer behavior changes and preferences as more and more data becomes available.


We’ve been collaborating with brand partners in the OTC, food, and beverage sectors to help them navigate the impact of GLP-1 drugs on their businesses while charting a strategic path forward. Here are some key considerations:

  • Harness the Power of Data Insights:  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Those who truly understand their consumers will lead. But you can’t do that without understanding the data. As someone once said, “We are surrounded by data but starved for insights.” Stay updated on emerging data and understand consumption habits, shopping basket composition, and medium-to-long-term effects on health and lifestyle. If your strategy doesn’t address the GLP-1 consumer, along with other cohorts, you may be missing out.

  • Pave the Way with Strategic Road Mapping: Carefully plot the course forward for product innovation, claims, and retail activations that hit the mark. Evaluate your current portfolio through the GLP-1 lens to explore potential claims, messaging and expansion opportunities, innovation white space, and risk mitigation areas.

  • Harness M&A to Unlock New Growth:  After careful assessment, determine the appropriate level of investment and potential targets, if any, for portfolio expansion that will allow you to unlock new growth with this new consumer segment.

  • Captivate and Connect with a Compelling Narrative: Position your products and pricing as essential GLP-1 companions. Develop campaigns that not only catch the eye but also engage the mind. And ensure you’re connecting along the consumer journey when your support is needed most.

 

As GLP-1 drugs continue to impress, the ripple effects through retail are undeniable. Retailers and manufacturers, it’s time to profoundly change up your approach. You’re not just adapting; you're setting the stage to lead and innovate in the ever-expansive health and wellness market. Here's to healthier consumers and fulfilling retail experiences!

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