Retailers interested in making their stores a health and wellness destination need to be sure to let customers know they are in that business through signage and other point-of-sale materials, speakers told a workshop session Tuesday during the annual convention of the National Grocers Association in Las Vegas.
Jonathon Tucker, VP, pharmacy, for Wakefern Food Corp., Keasbey, N.J., said the cooperative's ShopRite stores have adopted "a whole-store strategy for health and wellness to let customers know we are selling a service, not a product. We integrate health and wellness merchandise throughout the stores to meet the needs of all customers."
Asked if some departments seem to be protective of their turf, Tucker said department heads from all food and nonfood categories meet weekly with the company's dietitians "to talk about having the right signage and driving a coherent message instead of just promoting health and wellness in isolated pockets of the stores."
Expanding the offerings in a subcategory also lets customers know a retailer is serious about health and wellness, Jim Nilsson, president of Geissler's Supermarkets, Bloomfield, Conn., said.
"Nutrition bars were taking off, so we expanded to an 8-foot section and saw a tremendous uptick, with sales up 14%," he said. "We've sold gluten-free groceries for years, but since we expanded into gluten-free frozen foods with sections of 8- to 12-feet, we've become a destination store in the area. You've just got to go with the flow of what consumers are looking for."
In response to a question, Nilsson added, "There's always some angst when you expand a section. But in the area of health and nutrition, you have to commit to keeping at it and letting people find it."
Keith Wypyszynski, VP of the Global Market Development Center, the trade association based in Colorado Springs, said he agreed. "If you carry it, make it visible," he said.
He also said it's important for retailers to offer more traditional health and wellness items alongside organic or natural varieties "to make sure people are aware of the breadth of your offering so they can move from traditional items to more specialized items if they want to. But don't give up too quickly if the natural category doesn't move immediately."
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