By Karen Buch, RDN, LDN
Interim Editor, RDBA Weekly
Recently, I spoke with retail dietitians, Molly Bray RD, LDN and Melissa O’Brien, MS, RDN, LDN about their work for Jewel-Osco, now part of New Albertsons Inc., a privately held grocery company serving the “Chicagoland” area.
In November 2013, Jewel-Osco hired four Registered Dietitians (RDs) to offer counseling, tours, fairs and demo campaigns to its customers. Initially, each RD was assigned to cover four stores. They now take a different approach and are willing to schedule events and activities in any of the chain’s 180 store locations. In addition, their scope has widened from primarily focusing on patient appointments to becoming more involved and integrated in corporate initiatives and social media outreach. After a year on the job, they’re really hitting their stride to figure out where to focus their efforts. By sharing recaps about store events internally, they find it sparks interest and requests for future events from other store directors. Currently, the Retail Dietitians report to a District Pharmacy Manager.
In November 2014, the Jewel-Osco RDs launched their first comprehensive merchandising program called Healthy Plate Solutions in partnership with the meat department and a vendor partner. After an initial planning meeting with the category managers (CMs) to discuss program logistics, they worked together with the social media team to create a communications plan. They also credit the Assistant Sales Manager of Meat and Seafood, who was instrumental in helping to get the bunkers lined up for in-store displays, sending Daily Bulletin communications and issuing display directives (including cross-merchandising of items such as carrots, lettuce, green onions and water chestnuts).
During the program’s first week, four stores held demos (totaling 28 hours). “There was a 4.5% increase in sales of the demo products during our first campaign week. This was compared to the last week period when the product was on sale at the same price point. We are pleased with these results for a first-time attempt.” They are measuring success by monitoring sales of featured items and tracking customers reached during demos and social media.