As Holland & Barrett launches its biggest-ever investment in women’s healthcare, Retail Week speaks to the executives behind the new campaign to discover how it fits into the retailer’s transformation strategy

Holland & Barrett women's health campaign launch

Holland & Barrett aims to be the ‘destination where you can find education and advice’ at different life stages

Holland & Barrett is going through a period of change. From a new operating model to new product lines, store redesigns, and now, its latest women’s wellness commitment of £4m in investment.

Retail Week speaks to Tamara Rajah, chief transformation officer and CEO H&B wellness solutions, and Lina Chan, director of women’s health, about its latest campaign and transforming from “a vitamin shop to a wellness destination”.

Can you tell us more about the £4m new investment in women’s wellness?

Chan: “We put a lot of investment in all the communications, from the ads, all the way to how it shows up in stores. So a large part of it is around the access to information as a lot of the time, women still feel stigma and taboo around these issues.

“Another pillar is training. We’ve created modules for training and worked very closely with scientists because it is so crucial that we get the trust right and that we come across as being impartial.

“And then last but not least, one of the biggest areas of investment is product. So really looking at efficacy and relevance, designing with women in mind, especially now, as we expand into different life stages.” 

How do you plan to deliver the campaign to customers and what’s the end goal? 

Chan: “I think it’s a multichannel approach. We’re on the telly, we are everywhere on social media. The majority of people who interact with Holland & Barrett do it through our store colleagues. That’s why the training was so important.”

Rajah: “For us, the success of the campaign would be when a customer starts to see us as that destination where you can find education and advice. For us, that’s great, because we want to be there for their lifetime. It doesn’t matter whether they buy something when they walk through the door for the first time. That’s not the goal and that’s not how the colleagues think.”

How does the campaign fit in with Holland & Barrett’s wider transformation strategy? 

Rajah: “I think the transformation is about moving from the vitamin shop to the wellness destination. And for us to get there, from a customer perspective, it means we need to have great products that work and great solutions beyond the products – and that’s where the content, the services and so on come in. And then the platforms to support that – tech, data, science, ESG; all of these are enablers driving that transformation. 

“Two or three years ago, there was a lot that was still to be done. I think the customers were coming in looking for vitamin D. 

“That was the customer experience a couple of years ago. So pivoting to a mission focus has been a board conversation since before I joined. And it’s because we know from data and insights that people think about needs, not products, first. 

“But two years ago, we didn’t have the solution to put around that. So we could have said women’s health or gut health, and you only put three products together. What we’ve been doing over the years is thinking: all right, we’ve got our six to eight missions that we want to focus on, how do we build underneath that the great range of both our products and our partner products as well, and the great content that can support it?” 

How do the changes in Holland & Barrett’s operating model fit in with its long-term strategy? 

Rajah: “The structure into the divisions [UK and Ireland; international; and wellness solutions and transformation] was to help bring this to life quicker because what it’s done is create the focus around the customer in three different areas. We’ve got the UK and Ireland customers and we want to get to know their needs and behaviours and tailor the solutions and operations of the business accordingly. 

“Similarly, with international, we’re in a place now that we’ve got the ingredients that we didn’t a couple of years ago, to start to make moves internationally. We’ve always had a quarter of our business coming from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. But there’s a lot we’ve been doing in countries around the world. China, for example, is growing hugely.  

“Wellness solutions is around that holistic proposition that we want to take to the customer. What the creation of the divisions has done is sharpen the focus and leadership so that we can accelerate this transformation.”