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What good are the grocery industry’s assertions that it wants to help consumers get and stay healthy if it doesn’t actually offer many better-for-you items?
For Jaime Schwartz Cohen, MS, RD, director of nutrition at New York-based public relations and marketing agency Ketchum, the goal of being a health-and-wellness guide “starts with the product. Manufacturers/suppliers should always strive to make products healthier and abide by a ‘progress, not perfection’ mantra. Small changes across the store can improve health overall. Manufacturers who evaluate their content assets – from packaging to POS to websites and social platforms – for health-and-wellness storytelling and education opportunities go a long way in supporting their retail partners’ desire to be understood as a wellness destination. Manufacturers also should invest in training their sales force about nutrition and health, including having an understanding of the science and how the product fits within a healthy dietary pattern/lifestyle, so that the store-level partnership is optimized for health and wellness.”
Jeff Weidauer, VP, marketing and strategy at Little Rock, Ark.-based in-store marketing services company Vestcom International Inc., agrees that suppliers “can assist retailers by offering more options that meet the criteria that shoppers want, while providing attractive pricing on those products.”
In response to this demand for greater choice, manufacturers are stepping up to the plate. For example, Hunt’s, a brand of Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods recently launched a line of organic tomatoes, consisting of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. “While all of Hunt’s tomatoes are non-GMO and peeled with Flashsteam from simple hot water, this Organic line was developed as an offering for consumers with particular beliefs and values,” explains Chelsea Herman, associate brand manager at ConAgra “Today, consumers have an ever-growing spectrum of needs when it comes to choosing foods that are right for them. Manufacturers and retailers have an unprecedented opportunity to listen, and to help deliver upon these needs with specific, tailored product offerings.”
On the packaging side, Amy Lotker, owner/EVP of sales and marketing at Delray Beach, Fla.-based Better For You Foods LLC, notes: “Our belief is that packaging should be intuitive about the information most needed by the health-oriented consumer. Our company works diligently to ensure that product benefits are clearly stated and easy to understand. We realize that consumers seeking products made with Non-GMO ingredients need to be able to identify such products easily. Likewise, the health-conscious consumer who’s looking for products that are Certified Organic, gluten-free – or made with sprouted grains or ancient grains – should be able to easily identify qualifying products as well.”
Meanwhile, retailers’ commitment to carrying more nutritious products should extend to all parts of the store and encompass its own brands. “Aldi and Target have buttressed their wellness positioning by announcing that they will introduce healthier checkout lane offerings by stocking single-serve nuts, trail mixes, dried fruit and granola bars instead of traditional candy,” points out Carl Jorgensen, director, global consumer strategy – wellness at Stamford, Conn.-based Daymon Worldwide. “In addition, by the end of 2015 Aldi had removed undesirable ingredients from all of its private brand products, not just its organic and free-from Simply Nature brand. A recent brochure available in Aldi stores tells the story of how this was done, showing before-and-after pictures of product examples from which artificial colors were removed.”
According to Jorgensen, “This approach works because a retailer’s private brands represent what the retailer stands for, and are an area over which the retailer has total control. This is especially powerful in the case of Aldi, where its private brands represent approximately 90 percent of the products it sells.”
He further recommends “[c]uration of product assortments around specific wellness attributes: Protein, Digestive Health, Calming/Stress-Busting, Energy, etc.,” as well as “[e]ducating throughout the store about wellness strategies, and then offering curated assortments of the products and services that have these specific attributes.”
The message is clear: “Successful manufacturers and retailers must be partners in the endeavor to provide consumers a wide variety of foods to be enjoyed across all eating occasions, with a focus on the values we share with consumers: safe and wholesome food, pleasure, transparency, and health,” asserts Kristin Reimers, director, nutrition at ConAgra.
For more about driving health in-store visit PG's March issue.