Shari Steinbach, MS RD
Meijer Healthy Living Manager
I can’t imagine my team of dietitians accomplishing nearly as much in our roles at Meijer without the help of partnerships in the health arena that strengthen and advance the work we do. These partners include non-profit health organizations, hospitals, insurance companies, state health departments, local health coalitions, and many health educators. These collaborations are extremely valuable, and over the years, I have discovered some keys that lead to success:
1. Seek out partnerships that align to your company and departmental goals and strategy.
Meijer recently established a partnership with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) in our five-state region. With our commitment to diabetes care and prevention it was important for us to align with a respected diabetes organization for the latest research, expertise and educational resources. Collaboration with the ADA helps us to reach a target audience to promote the many diabetes products and solutions we offer at Meijer. In addition, one multi-state partnership allows us to provide consistent programs and saves us time in planning and executing year-long strategies.
2. Ensure the partnership provides a win-win-win relationship, benefiting you, the partner and the consumer.
In the state of Michigan, Meijer is partnering with the MI Healthier Tomorrow Campaign where thousands of Michigan consumers have pledged to lose 10 percent of their body weight for better health. Our partnership benefits the state as they have a link to millions of Michigan consumers through our stores. Meijer benefits as the program drives sales and helps raise the visibility of the solutions we offer in our food, fitness and pharmacy departments. And finally, the consumer wins by discovering resources that make living healthy easy and affordable.
3. Nurture and strengthen the relationship with ongoing communication and evaluation.
All partnerships evolve and grow over time. Keep them strong by discussing what is working and what can be improved. Hold regular meetings or calls to ensure events and activities are being executed properly and make sure your original goals are being met. Like anything else we do, make sure you are able to document the ROI of the partnership. Keep asking questions - Does the association with this organization help you reach more customers and drive sales and loyalty? Does the partnership need to change direction or perhaps discontinue due to a change in strategy?
I don’t know any retail dietitian who doesn’t juggle multiple projects while trying to stay informed and up-to-date on the latest trends and health issues to better serve customers. We must seek out and establish strong partnerships with health organizations and non-profits that provide benefits to our company and shoppers, help advance our strategy, and make our lives a bit easier by their existence.