Allison Beadle, MS, RD, LD
Editor, RDBA Weekly
It’s hard to believe that nearly twelve months have passed since we first launched RDBA Weekly—the first newsletter specifically designed to provide retail dietitians with business and retail education. Today, I’m excited to share some insights based on an analysis of the most popular articles and videos from our nearly-fifty issues. By taking a step back and looking at the content that most resonated with our readers, a few key trends emerged. And this sheds light on where retail dietitians are and where they’re going.
Push the Envelope, Build Your Brand, Tell Your Story. It’s no secret that retail dietitians are in a unique position—a position that's not without it’s challenges. One day you’re working as a clinical dietitian (surrounded by health professionals who know your background and expertise) and the next you’re on the sales floor of a grocery store conducting a cooking demonstration (while trying to explain the difference between “registered dietitian” and “nutritionist”). While there is a great influx of dietitians working in the retail setting, it is still a non-traditional career path. And this means that retail dietitians must Think Outside the Dietitian Box, which is key to Creating Your Personal Brand. But having a vision for your non-traditional retail career and a plan for Brand You is just the beginning. Telling the story of your brand through your Thirty Second Elevator Speech (see also: Your Thirty Second Elevator Speech in Nine Steps) is crucial. And one of our most popular recurring columns, “Retail Dietitian Close Up” is all about telling the stories of retail dietitians—we’re finding that retail dietitians love the opportunity to learn from one another.
Get Down to the Business of Health & Wellness. Many retailers have embraced registered dietitians as a critical component to their health and wellness strategy, and the focus has now turned to ROI. You can’t have a conversation with a retail dietitian without the subject of ROI coming up at some point. And this is just a sign of the times—pretty much everyone agrees that it’s a good thing to provide nutrition education to shoppers, but retail is a business so retail dietitians are challenged with integrating health and wellness into the retail business model. A good place to start is with a basic understanding of retail marketing strategies, such as shopper marketing and how to Leverage Shopper Marketing for Health Benefit. And merchandising provides endless opportunities for dietitians to apply their nutrition knowledge to increase sales (see Merchandising Health Part 1 and Merchandising Health Part 2). But ultimately, it comes down to Building the Business Case for Health and Wellness.
Manage Your Future. Remember what I said about retail being a non-traditional career path? Once a retail dietitian is hired, the path forward is rarely—if ever—clear-cut. This means that retail dietitians must be exceptionally strategic in how they manage their future—looking forward with vision and moving ahead with a thoughtful plan. Taking a proactive approach to professional assessment is a great place to start, using tools such as 360 Feedback. And ideally, cultivating influence from day one (see: Ready for More Yes? Try the 5 C’s of Influence). Not only is influence critical to moving initiatives forward, but it plays a very important role in Salary Management.
As we dive into the New Year ahead, it’s exciting to think about where we’ll be this time next year. If one thing’s for certain, it’s that registered dietitians are making a significant mark on both the business of retail and the health of shoppers. And that’s a recipe for success.