Consumers make 200+ food decisions every day, a number far higher on shopping days. Supermarkets are where consumers make vital decisions about what to feed themselves and their families, which has direct implications on their overall health and well-being.
Supermarket dietitians serve as ambassadors between brands and the local community. Retail dietitians are a credible source to help grocery stores promote healthy eating and offer unique experiences and services that consumers are increasingly coming to value and expect. Grocery store dietitians have the trained ability to translate nutritional science into practical information that helps consumers take actionable health-promoting steps and improve the overall shopping experience.
The Need for Retail Dietitians
As retail becomes increasingly competitive with online food delivery, specialty chains, and other forces disrupting the traditional food-buying experience, offering in-store dietetic services is becoming even more important in sustaining foot traffic and brand recognition. Moreover, as insurance coverage for food as medicine and nutritional counseling increases, retail dietitians are uniquely poised to generate a strong financial return to grocery stores, with the proper mechanisms in place.
A 2017 Food Marketing Institute Report showed that 81% of supermarket dietitian programs are considered a growth opportunity for the store, and 96% of those surveyed are committed to growing said programs within their stores. As the presence of these programs continues to grow, dietitians are going to be the key in executing and marketing them to each store’s target market. Dietitians have the knowledge and education to counsel shoppers, provide nutrition education, and create effective interventions. Additionally, many supermarket dietitians are skilled in networking and marketing, and can reach more shoppers than ever before.
Learn how to maintain and stay connected with your referral network using Healthie by creating a free Starter account.
Benefits of Grocery Store Dietitians
✓ Improve your Bottom Line
While adding any employee to your grocery store increases your costs, a dietitian has a potentially high return on investment, if effective and useful services are provided. For example, by offering concierge services through a grocery store dietitian, including creating and diffusing programs, hosting webinars, and store tours, you can add multiple new streams of revenue to your business. Prices for concierge services can vary anywhere from $25 to $100 per month. For this example, let’s settle with concierge services at $50 a month, with 250 shoppers participating each month. That will generate $12,500 of monthly recurring revenue. Your RD’s time is a fixed cost, so these services easily add extra revenue to your grocery store.
In addition, with ever-increasing options for online shopping, a retail dietitian can help get shoppers back through the doors of your store. Many customers identify a great experience as the key to their loyalty; interacting with an in-store dietitian is just another opportunity to curate a positive experience in your store. Shoppers will be more likely to come back and spend their money at your store on a consistent basis, because they appreciate and trust your services and staff. Grocery store dietitians can also drive product sales, improving your overall bottom line. Products that are consistently recommended by dietitians could see improved sales, especially for healthier products you’ve been struggling to sell.
✓ Add Value for Your Customers
As we mentioned earlier, more and more shoppers are turning to virtual shopping due to increased convenience and safety. Adding a dietitian to your store is a great way to add value to the shopping experience for your customers. A 2018 FMI survey showed that 55% of consumers see the grocery store as an ally in their health journey. There is almost no limit to the services a retail dietitian can offer in your store: individual counseling, grocery store tours, online programs, product recommendations, webinars, and so much more. When clients realize they can capitalize on health services in the same place they are doing their grocery shopping, they are bound to see the value of being a loyal customer.
Additionally, FMI reports that 75% of stores surveyed noted their pharmacists and dietitians have begun working together, by referring customers to each other. 58% are also working together to develop programs for their shoppers. With multiple in-store healthcare providers working together, shoppers can be sure they are receiving a comprehensive and holistic healthcare, right from their grocery store.
✓ Role of Dietitians in Community Health
The USDA ERS estimates 2.1 million households within the US live in a low-income and low food access area, making it much more difficult for that population to purchase nutritious, healthy, and affordable food. By incorporating telehealth services into your grocery store through a community dietitian, you can reach those who don’t have access to proper nutrition education on a regular basis. Not only can community dietitians provide nutrition education and counseling, but they also can walk clients through specific products at the grocery or convenience store that would be best for them to purchase. This offers shoppers an individualized approach to their nutrition care within their local community.
In-store services also have been shown to tangibly improve the health of shoppers. A small-scale study demonstrated that hypertensive patients who received community nutrition education on the DASH diet and lifestyle modifications from RDs at their grocery store were likely to positively change their eating habits. Having a dietitian in the store allowed dietitians to give hands-on lessons in the aisle, and the participants appreciated the detailed information and support from the in-store dietitian.
Seeking out nutrition advice from a community dietitian may not be a common action for the everyday consumer. By placing a dietitian in an accessible and everyday environment, shoppers can become more comfortable with the idea of improving their health with the help of an expert.
Healthie for Grocery & Retail Dietitians
Healthie is a telehealth platform designed for wellness professionals, that enables retail dietitians to build relationships with shoppers. Healthie enables retail dietitians to streamline program processes, deliver in-store & virtual counseling to shoppers and employees alike, and offer expanded nutrition education programs.
When shoppers decide to work with your in-store dietitians, they will receive access to a secure client portal, which they can access from the web browser or the Healthie mobile app. With features like secure chat, photo food journaling, online programs, and live video appointments -- dietitians are able to connect with clients, track their progress, and provide support all through one platform/app. With membership plans that scale in size, Healthie can be implemented within supermarkets, grocery stores, and retail centers of any size. Click here to sign up for a Free Starter Account!
Grocery stores that use Healthie report:
- Enhanced service offerings
- Increased basket size, especially of promoted items
- Coordinated efforts with marketing for food brand awareness & promotions
- Higher brand loyalty and recognition, contributing to repeat visits
- Improvements in employee morale and workplace culture
More Resources for Retail Dietitians
Download our guide on using Healthie for grocery and retail here
Weis Markets has transformed their retail services to provide more value to their shoppers via Healthie > Read their story and sign up for free today with our Starter Plan to access many of the sought-after features that were used!
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