Marketing: A Discussion for Retail Dietitians, 
Part 1: The 4 Ps of Marketing

Marketing: A Discussion for Retail Dietitians, 
Part 1: The 4 Ps of Marketing

February 18, 2015
Business Skills

By Karen Buch RDN, LDN

You’ve probably heard of the “4 P’s” of marketing first coined in the 1960’s including Product, Price, Promotion and Placement. Food retailers invest vast amounts of time and effort to put the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time. Retail Dietitians can successfully align their efforts to guide customers toward healthful choices with the retailer’s overarching marketing plan. This type of value-added marketing can drive sales of nutritious foods while enhancing customer loyalty.

According to the Food Marketing Institute, grocery stores typically carry between 15,000 and 60,000 stock keeping units (SKUs). A key component of a retail dietitian’s job is to familiarize themselves with as many of these products as possible including fresh foods, packaged foods and new products being introduced to market. Are there appealing nutritional benefits? How does it taste? What makes it unique? Can customers incorporate it into quick and easy meal solutions? How should it be prepared or stored until ready to use? Who is the target customer?

Price refers to the dollar amount the end user will pay for the product. Promotional (High-Low) grocery operators set regular retail prices with enough margin built in to periodically offer the item “on-sale” at a temporary price reduction (TPR) in an effort to drive sales. Reduced prices are promoted to customers through ad circulars, pricing tag danglers and signage. Some grocery operators use an EDLP (Every Day Low Price) strategy to provide customers with a more competitive pricing image every day. EDLP operators must use other forms of marketing tactics to raise the customer’s perceived value of a product to drive incremental purchases including deeper focus on enhancing the end-to-end customer shopping experience and relationship building through personalization.


Promotion refers to the communication aspects of the marketing efforts. Any marketing strategy, communication vehicle or technique may qualify as a promotion. Examples include ad circulars that communicate sales promotions, special offer mailers, coupons or advertising via in-store radio, television, radio, newsprint, billboard, social media, advertorials or public relation efforts. The opportunities for Retail Dietitians to contribute in this area of the 4P marketing mix are endless.  

Place or placement refers to where and how the product will be accessed by the customer. Distribution is a key element as is physical placement within a retail store or on a retail shelf. Major shifts are occurring as retail ‘locations’ expand from bricks-and-mortar stores to online access channels. Customers have more choices of where to shop than ever before and retailers need to be able to intercept and grab their attention when they are most receptive and in need of solutions. 

Retail Dietitians can and do contribute value-added marketing in ways that can deliver incremental sales lifts beyond traditional marketing plans that rely on the 4P’s. To learn how, watch for Part 2 of Marketing: A Discussion for Retail Dietitians.

About the Author
Karen Buch, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who specializes in retail dietetics and food & nutrition communications. As one of the first supermarket dietitians, she is a recognized trailblazer and expert at translating nutrition science into practical solutions for consumers. Karen is owner and principal consultant at Nutrition Connections LLC, chair of the Food & Culinary Professionals Supermarket/Retail subgroup and contributing author to RDBA Weekly. You can connect with her on twitter @karenbuch and visit