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Hehku offers wellness in-store and online

The new wellness chain Hehku relies on good customer service, a nation-wide network and a well-equipped online shop.

Professional personnel from different fields, a wide selection of health, wellness and beauty products and services plus an online shop that is seamlessly linked to the shops—these are the success factors of the new Hehku chain that opened its first spacious shops in Helsinki and Vantaa in January. One of the first shops opened on the second floor of Sponda’s Forum shopping centre.

And more will follow. The Hehku network will have 100 shops, 30 of which will open across Finland in 2018.

“Hehku focuses on all aspects of wellness, offering natural products, cosmetics and pharmacy products under the same roof,” says CEO Tuomas Mattelmäki.

Establishing a new retail chain is a bold move in this era of growing e-commerce, although the sales figures of retail stores for the end of 2017 suggest a positive turn.

“In 2017, sales grew by 1.7 percent in the whole year and 2.8 per cent in December,” says Kari Luoto, Managing Director of the Finnish Grocery Trade Association.

Hehku looks to trends

The idea for the Hehku chain comes from observing well-known megatrends. One of these is the long-lasting and popular wellness trend, which also affects the behaviour of Finnish consumers.

“The so-called ‘ big picture’, the social context, also plays its role. For example, the current discussion on health and social services emphasises not only freedom of choice but also the importance of taking responsibility for one’s own health and wellbeing,” Mattelmäki points out.

In addition to healthy products, consumers want fast services.

“The culture of shopping is changing constantly. People appreciate a smooth and easy shopping experience. Customers might come to the shop and ask about products they will later buy online or vice versa,” Luoto says.

He also mentions the growing trends of sustainability and eco-friendliness.

“When the economy is not going well, price is a key motivator behind purchasing decisions. If the economic situation continues its positive development, consumers will start to base their purchasing decisions more and more on their values. They could choose products, for example, on the basis of their ecological impact, sustainability and origin.”

Modelled after an international concept

The new wellness chain did not come out of nowhere and is in fact based on examples from other European countries.

“Pharmacies in, for example, the UK and Sweden are very different from Finnish pharmacies. These countries also have a range of wellness chains that we used as benchmarks,” Mattelmäki says.

Hehku does not see its traditional shops and online shops as competitors. Instead, it offers a comprehensive concept that covers both. One of the reasons for this is that Hehku operates shops in three different sizes, and the smaller ones have only a limited selection of products in stock.

“However, all our products can be ordered from the online shop using iPads that are available at each Hehku shop, for example. And, of course, our online shop serves those customers who do not yet have a Hehku shop in their neighbourhood.”

The product and service selection has not yet been fixed, but Hehku is a flexible retail concept.

“The idea is to meet the expectations of consumers quickly by offering new products and services proactively, before consumers specifically ask for them.”

For example, the Hehku shop in Forum has only been open for a few weeks, but its customers have already praised the selection:

“In the past, certain brands could only be admired on the pages of magazines, but now they are available in Finland through Hehku. On the other hand, we also sell more familiar products and classics,” says Meri Räihä, Store Manager.

Focus on customer service

Tuomas Mattelmäki believes that there is demand for good customer service. Service is one of the factors that sets Hehku apart from the competition.

“In addition to an extensive product selection that covers all aspects of well-being, from nutrition, recovery and sports to beauty and health, we offer excellent customer service.”

Hehku employs professionals from different fields, including pharmacists, cosmetologists, nutritional therapists and personal trainers. In Mattelmäki’s view, co-operation between experts from different fields benefits not only customers but also employees.

“Our experts learn from each other, and we guarantee personal service to our customers through product training.”

Meri Räihä says that customers have already given positive feedback on the services.

“Our customers are excited about our one-stop-shop concept that also offers services. At the moment, lash and brow tinting is our most popular service. It only takes a couple of minutes and, in future, it will be available without an appointment.

Published 15.3.2018