Working with dietitians who work in retail has been a thing for years. It’s funny to me though, how many organizations think this means in-store tactical execution of an event, with the metric being how many people showed up for a tour or how many coupons for healthier products were used. While these are incredibly important moments, they are just one aspect of a newer, bigger strategy potential that could provide even more benefit to people, planet, and yes, to profit, too.
We have the potential to help improve public health while increasing customer loyalty. You share good information that helps your shoppers and cuts through the confusion? You bet that’s going to build trust and relationships.
Consider the interests of consumers/shoppers today:
- Health and well-being is the connection of people, planet, and profit.
- There are many wanna-be self-proclaimed health “experts” maximizing their marketing mouth and putting out erroneous information. Usually with good intentions, but that doesn’t excuse the havoc this can wreak.
- We must make make real science relatable and share practical tips, not spew facts.
- We must both care about individuals and understand the need for a successful business (otherwise, where will the people you want to help buy their nutrition/food? No grocery store, no options, no good).
- Social media chatter about saving the planet and reducing #foodwaste is really just about meal planning, how to properly and easily prepare delicious meals, and navigating the tens of thousands of products a typical American grocery store has.
Here is your action list to maximize what we dietitians can do for you and your customers:
- Consider the strategic implementation of a health and well-being program versus a one-time marketing program. This means looking at it as a lifestyle move, a way to do business, and a consideration for everything a shopper may purchase. Treat sales like a shopper approaches meal and snack time. Can a person build a sandwich with what you have on sale? Is your BOGO spice sale mix and match? Pretty much no one needs two giant bottles of dry mustard powder. When you have a June dairy month sale, this doesn’t mean orange juice and eggs. Organize your marketing message to match food groups in MyPlate. This would be tremendous for reducing confusion and at the same time help build trust with both shoppers and thought leaders.
My dietitian translation (i.e., how we can help you even more): many people these days are time-starved, not confident in cooking skills, and lacking balance. A sandwich is 2 or 3 food groups, can be made by almost anyone, and can be a fast, enjoyable, and balanced meal.
The DASH and Mediterranean eating plans are not only part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, but top diets in the roundups in the media, and herbs/spices are an enjoyable way to add flavor minus the sodium. Make it easier to make a good choice with smart BOGO sales on spices.
Orange juice and eggs are not nutritionally equivalent to dairy foods. Putting them in the refrigerator case does not make them dairy from a food point of view. It’s a location, or planogram, move to call them dairy or include them in dairy sales promos.
2. Have a strategy for fads and trends. Do you really want to be all in on a fad that fizzles in a few months? No. That doesn’t mean you ignore them – it means you work with your credible expert (dietitian) to help highlight the components of a fad that have some legs to stand on. Case in point: most of the current trends encourage people to increase their vegetable consumption. Regardless of your “food politics”, this is a pretty solid move since data indicates this is one of the most underconsumed but important food groups. Plus, it’s one of your fresh departments, and encouraging people to eat their veggies becomes a win-win-win. People benefit from the nutrition. The planet benefits from the avoidance of sending them to a landfill where they contribute to greenhouse gas. The profit advances because you are selling fresh product and reducing shrink. This is what gets me personally/professionally excited. It’s not business against people. It’s people and businesses working together, with people looking for solutions that businesses can bring.
3. Understand what a strategic health and well-being thinker brings to the table. Consider it a Chief Well-being Officer that has the potential to benefit everyone involved, thinking through the health implications, the cultural relevance, the science, and more. Move past the important, but limiting, metrics of how many people attended a store tour or used a coupon. Health and well-being is an integral part of today’s business strategy where consumers are looking at how the business conducts themselves and how their values line up with the individual shoppers’ values. Maximize the connecting factor, with a dietitian like me convening accurate content and uniting the experts from farm to table. Farmers, processors, retailers and healthcare professionals are a dream team. Don’t bench any of them, and don’t expect the center to be the point guard. In other words, utilize your network and bring in the subject matter experts so you streamline your efforts with actual credible information. If you expect your marketer to provide nutrition information, it will fall short – and in most instances, providing health expertise without a health expert involved is actually a liability.