Successful health and wellness programs often use an umbrella strategy that ties together each department. Stater Bros. is covering its shoppers by using a new dietitian to connect pharmacy with food.
The San Bernardino, Calif., chain of 164 stores recently hired Melissa Hooper, a registered dietitian, to head up Healthy Selections, a chainwide program that includes monthly one-page mailers sent to 3.9 million homes, a quarterly newsletter, in-store signage and a number of outreach initiatives.
The various elements of Healthy Selections are designed to reinforce each other. For example, during American Diabetes Month in November, a Healthy Selections ad featuring the Glucerna line of diabetic-friendly products was mailed to homes, coupled with newsletters at pharmacy counters. At the same time, the quarterly issue of the Healthy Selections newsletter included articles on diabetes and controlling blood sugar. All of this was backed up by proactive pharmacists communicating with customers, according to Hooper.
“Pharmacists tell customers about the program and about talking to the dietitian,” she said.
Stater Bros. is looking to expand the cross-merchandising and cross-education components of food and pharmacy products more in the near future. The chain wants to reach out in other ways as well.
“We're looking at shelf tags, and at doing some overhead announcements in our stores,” Hooper said.
In addition, Stater Bros. is working on plans to sponsor off-site health fairs next year. Cooperating branded food and medication manufacturers will help provide information at the events on a variety of topics, distribute samples of food products and participate in sponsorships.
“We want to give customers tools to walk away with, such as, “This is what I should ask my doctor about,'” Hooper said.
Health fairs have the potential to draw more shoppers than other events such as in-store seminars, which are not always well attended, Hooper believes.
“Store space is so limited that people sometimes have to stand. Elderly people might not be able to stand for a while,” she said.
Already, brand manufacturers want to participate in the health fairs, as they have with the monthly mailers. “We have a lot of brand support. I met with a large manufacturer who was surprised that more grocery stores are not doing this,” Hooper said.