Building Diversity on RD Teams
Amy Peick, dietetic student and aspiring retail dietitian
All dietitians have a unique skill set, background of experiences and education that make them an expert in one area or another. Having a diverse group of RDs can maximize the shopper experience, expand personal knowledge base and build connections with a wider variety of shoppers in the retail environment. Dietitians with various expertise can bring different benefits to both the shopper and the retailer.
Retail dietitians who have a culinary background, a degree in exercise science or their CDE (certified Diabetes Educator) can greatly benefit retailers for many reasons.
- Culinary- RDs with a strong culinary background are a great resource for shoppers. They can educate consumers on cooking tips and techniques with specific products found within the store. These dietitians can interact with consumers through on-site cooking demonstrations and specific cooking classes. A retail RD with a culinary background also has opportunities to present their skills and knowledge to the public though online videos on social media, YouTube, the company website as well as with local news stations.
- Exercise Science- These experts focus on a balanced lifestyle of eating right as well as incorporating physical activity. Many customers have questions on weight loss strategies and don't know where to start on their shopping list. An RD with an exercise science degree can help consumers balance their eating habits with their physical activity. The retailer will be able to incorporate more events focused on physical activity and weight loss with an RD in this area of expertise. Possible undergraduate degrees include a bachelor of science in exercise science or kinesiology. A graduate degree may include a masters in exercise science and nutrition, a masters in kinesiology, or a masters in health and exercise science among many similar titles.
- CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator)- Nutrition is a key element of diabetes management and the shopper with diabetes is valuable to the retail company. Having an RD with their CDE in the store can be an effective way to fully meet the needs of the shopper managing this condition. This dietitian is best equipped to educate consumers through events and classes and discuss the main challenges of diabetes, such as label reading, portion sizes, cravings, etc. Retail RD-CDEs can partner with pharmacists and provide comprehensive care to customers with specific nutrition-related diseases, such as diabetes. The partnership of the pharmacy and the RD can support patients in both the medical and nutritional aspects of diabetes care.
As you look to expand your dietitian team, consider the gaps in current staff as well as the needs of shoppers that aren’t currently being filled. Hiring a dietitian with one of these specialties can increase shopper loyalty or bring new shoppers to the stores. If you are considering a master’s program, discuss options with your manager that might benefit overall healthy living programs. As the retail dietetics industry continues to expand, these specialties will only become more important to creating brand differentiation for your retail company.