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Good news for retail dietitians: Retailers across the country clearly recognize the value of health and wellness programs, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) report, 2014 Retailer Contributions to Health & Wellness.
The vast majority of retailers (96 percent) say they’re committed to expanding health and wellness programs in their stores and 70 percent view these programs as a significant future business growth opportunity for the entire industry, according to the report, which surveyed FMI members from 29 chains representing more than 6,800 stores nationwide.
Other findings relevant to retail dietitians:
- Almost all stores (95 percent) employ dietitians at the corporate, regional and store levels.
- Dietitians and pharmacists are teaming up to develop health and wellness programs (67 percent) and make customer-specific recommendations (48 percent), up significantly from 2013. About half (52 percent) say they refer customers/patients to each other for counsel.
- All respondents said they offered community health events, product sampling and healthy recipes in the past year. Other top offerings are store tours, kiosks with health tips/brochures, cooking demos and health screenings at 95 percent each, followed by kid-focused events, end caps promoting “healthy for you” choices and nutrition counseling at 90 percent each.
- Most store tours (85 percent) are conducted by staff registered dietitians with pharmacy staff conducting the rest. Diabetes and healthy eating are the top two tour topics (90 percent each), followed by nutrition labeling (75 percent), weight management (65 percent) and children (60 percent).
- Eight in 10 (81 percent) retailers dedicate space to health and wellness on their customer websites. Major content areas are common health concerns (95 percent), food allergies and intolerances (74 percent) and local or in-store health programs (68 percent). About one-quarter (26 percent) of websites offer the ability to submit questions to the dietitian online.
- Retailers use a variety of tracking mechanisms to assess the effectiveness of health and wellness programs. The most popular methods are program participation and attendance numbers (89 percent) and consumer comments (79 percent). Also used are anecdotal reports/informal employee feedback and sales figures (47 percent each), surveys and focus groups that measure awareness of and attitudes about the programs (42 percent each), and health risk assessments (42 percent).