Multiple paths to wellness in supermarkets

December 11, 2012

By providing information as well as products, food stores can become more essential to customers and help protect trips.

Supermarkets have more than other retailers do under one roof to promote health and wellness and differentiate stores. More than ever, they’re activating these tools—from good-for-you foods, to dietitians and pharmacists, to recipes, cooking classes and more—to engage shoppers and drive incremental trips.

As information resources, and not just product providers, they become well-being experts contributing in numerous ways to the smooth running of households. F3 feels it is not only the responsible thing to do for customers, but it adds integrity to their food-handling expertise that competing channels can’t match.

We see supermarkets in the thick of the nation’s obesity challenge and diabetes surge. Therefore, the stores need to be part of the solution—continue to offer shoppers free choice, but also enact programs to help teach shoppers about nutrition (nearly 50% are confused by conflicting information, says the Food Marketing Institute/Prevention’s Shopping for Health 2012 survey) and make smarter decisions at the shelf.

Food stores have many approaches to delivering objective information in support of wellness, reveals the FMI 2012 Retailer Contributions to Health & Wellness Survey. For example:

  1. 1.More than half (56.4%) of retailers participating in the survey run wellness classes, 46.2% run cooking classes, and 28.2% run weight-management classes. Cooking classes have separate target audiences—the most frequent for customers with restricted diets, followed by customers with chronic diseases, children, vegetarians and vegans.
  2. 2.79% of supermarkets offer store tours guided by separate themes, such as foods for specific diseases (85.7%) and healthy eating (81.0%), children (76.2%), adults (71.4%) and shoppers with diet restrictions (71.4%). Among retailers with dietitians on staff, 94% use them to lead the tours.
  3. 3.89.7% of retail respondents say they provide healthy recipes, which a majority of shoppers do try (57% have tried one in the past year, notes FMI/Prevention’s Shopping for Health 2012 data). Most often, retailers post healthy recipes on the website (95.2%), compared with 76.2% on in-store recipe cards and 47.6% on an in-store kiosk.
  4. 4.Nearly half of retailers (46.0%) say they publish a health and wellness newsletter, with the most prominent content being healthy recipes, nutrition Q&A, health articles, and an area for customers to pose questions. While supermarkets do provide information on a wide range of topics they are queried about—from homeopathic remedies to common health concerns, food allergies and drug interactions with foods and other drugs—they also link to government agency websites for people who want deeper insights and sourcing.
  5. 5.Retailers are trying to address consumers’ healthy eating concerns at the shelf by labeling these products:  gluten-free (85.7%); low sodium (57.1%); heart healthy, Kosher and fat-free (42.9%); sugar-free (38.1%); lactose-free (33.3%); vegan and vegetarian (19.0%); and soy products (14.3%).
  6. 6.Supermarkets employ registered dietitians more often than not—85.7% corporately, 52.4% regionally, 33.3% in-store and 4.8% consultants only. Just 9.5% report none. As a result, 59.0% of retailers say they provide nutrition counseling.
  7. 7.In stores with pharmacies, 79% offer health screenings and 87% immunize, most frequently flu shots and pneumonia vaccines.