First, it was Whole Foods. Next came your garden-variety grocery stores offering up private-label good-for-you products. And now, even convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Wawa are the latest to jump onto the healthy food bandwagon.
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Typically, when you find yourself in the neighborhood convenience store, you’re hankering for a Slim Jim, have a severe case of the munchies, or want to purchase a lottery ticket to strike it big. But those looking for a healthy — and perhaps even organic — bite might soon find an array of options available at their nearby 7-Eleven.
Two large convenience store brands, 7-Eleven and Wawa, have taken notice of the number of wellness-obsessed consumers in search of good-for-you snacks and have started experimenting with new products and store concepts. And you know a food category has gone mainstream when it can be found on the shelves of a convenience store.
The chain 7-Eleven, the world’s largest convenience store retailer owned by Japan-based Seven & I Holdings, is testing out wellness products in a new “lab store” concept in Dallas, not far from its U.S. corporate headquarters, with more locations to come in Washington, D.C., and San Diego. Among the selections are all sorts of gluten-free, keto-friendly, and naturally sweetened goodies, including single-serve pouches of brown rice, vegetarian tomato basil chili, and dairy-free cupcakes. The store’s iconic Slurpee is even being re-engineered into a healthy concoction filled with the likes of turmeric, cucumber, and black carrot.
Then there’s Philadelphia-based Wawa, which has more than 800 stores, mostly along the Northeast Corridor and in Florida. It’s experimenting with items like grain bowls, small-batch specialty coffee, and private-label “clean” ice cream (that is, made without artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives). The company’s test kitchen is also playing with paleo and keto recipes, along with more veggie-based options.
You can’t blame these two for trying. After all, according to the Organic Trade Association, Americans are buying about $50 billion of organic products annually, and the category is growing six times faster than the overall food market. Clearly, clean eating is on a lot of consumers’ minds.
But the question is, will offering the proverbial “something for everyone” boost the bottom line, or will it drive away the budget-conscious consumer who is simply looking to buy a quick, affordable snack without the guilt?
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— Laura Powell, Skift Contributor
Food & Drink
7-Eleven Looks to Broaden Its Healthy Offerings: 7-Eleven may be trying to morph into an alternative version of Whole Foods. The convenience store behemoth is currently testing out a new “lab store” concept in Dallas, which stocks healthy, gourmet products (read expensive) right next to the Twinkies and Fritos. The experiment could be a winner in food deserts, where healthy options are scarce and 7-Eleven is the only game in town. But the likelihood is that most of the stores offering healthy bites will be in neighborhoods already home to the wellness set, where the competition will be fierce. Read more here.
New Plant-Based Beverage Taps Into Boomers and Gen Xers: In today’s millennial-obsessed environment, it’s refreshing to see a brand consider the 50-plus set. Enter Perennial, a new plant-based nutritional beverage created by Brent Taylor, co-founder of plant-based protein brand Beyond Meat, and food scientist Sara Bonham. The drink is infused with a blend of fiber, vitamins, and plant proteins and is designed to aid digestion, bone, and cognitive health. Seems like a good idea, as the concept of healthy aging becomes widespread and 70 becomes the new 60. Read more here.
Do Workplace Wellness Programs Actually Work? Just because a company offers workplace wellness options doesn’t mean that employees will indulge. In fact, a new study suggests that these programs may simply attract employees who are already in good shape, rather than convincing others to change behaviors. That said, as workplace wellness is a relatively new phenomenon, longer-term studies may show different results. Read more here.
The Dark Side of the Wellness Influencer Economy: Many wellness influencers that reign over Instagram have amassed huge audiences while lacking serious expertise. Even worse, these wellness gurus tend to be slim, blond, and live seemingly perfect lives while posting about unrealistic diet and weight-loss tips. The phenomenon can be dangerous, possibly contributing to a rise in eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Diet culture has existed long before social media, but the calls for these influencers to use their platforms more responsibly seem to be increasing. Read more here.
Adidas Bets on Beyoncé’s Halo Effect: Speaking of influencers, right now, it’s difficult to find a more powerful one than Beyoncé Knowles. She’s teaming up with Adidas for a “creative partnership,” which includes designing new signature footwear and apparel for the brand, as well as relaunching her Ivy Park athleisure line. Meanwhile, Adidas, which is looking to connect with female consumers, gets to revel in the buzz that comes with Queen Bey. The collaboration is just the latest salvo in the game of one-upmanship being played among today’s athleisure giants. Read more here.
Buzzy Beauty Brand Sunday Riley Takes Off With United Airlines: If you’re seeking out a concentrated crowd of high-end consumers, there’s almost nowhere better to look than in the first and business class sections of an airplane. That’s why Sunday Riley, a Houston-based luxury skin care line, has agreed to stock the amenity kits for United Airline’s big-ticket passengers. And going one step further, Sunday Riley is also encouraging flight attendants to model the goods. Read more here.
Skift Contributor Laura Powell [[email protected]] curates the Skift Wellness newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.
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Photo credit: 7-Eleven has started experimenting with new products and store concepts. @mk_is_here / Flickr