By RDBA CEO, Phil Lempert
RDBA and Winsight Grocery Business held our second annual Retail Dietitian Exchange May 20-22nd in Chicago; co-located with the National Restaurant Association Show and the Sweets & Snacks Expo which our attendees were able to visit, seeking out the latest new products and trends.
Our first session, 2019 Consumer & Retail Trend Forecast included a discussion of the leading trends by four of our members: Julie McMillan of Hy-Vee, Yvette Waters of Raley’s, Heidi McIndoo of Hannaford and Shelby Miller of Natural Grocers.
The first discussion centered on the differences between a trend and a fad. Julie shared the question that she uses when teaching her buyers to determine if a new product falls under the fad category:“Is this going to be for a day or for the long term?” She went on to explain that if it is just for a day, that’s great, but it is a fad (FAD: For A Day). If the product is part of a trend, that will find its way into an already established category, like Low FODMAP or Gluten-free. She also asks the buyers if a particular product will fit into an eating lifestyle, because if it does, it's a product that a shopper will stick with for a while.
Yvette has pioneered a new shelf set in the cereal aisle where cereals that are high in sugar are moved to the lower shelf and tagged accordingly and cereals that are low in sugar are moved to eye level and also marked accordingly. Raley’s has also stopped accepting any promotional dollars and discontinued endcaps for cereals that have high sugar levels. The chain discontinued those products in their line of private label cereals. She says that all she wanted to do is offer her shoppers the tools to make informed decisions. She is now rolling out the same sugar strategy in six more categories including condiments and pasta sauces.
Shelby has the perspective of a health food store and looks for trends that are backed by quality research. Her shoppers are those that read all the blogs and are steeped in nutrition science. Natural Grocers, she says, has a different perspective as a result of this very trendy and informed customer base that demands that these latest products are available in their stores. She refers to her shoppers as today’s “hippies.”
Heidi agreed with Shelby that the first step between determining fad or trend is to see if it is science-based; but she underscores to her shoppers to also look at the source. If it's a Kardashian plugging it or on YouTube, she encourages her shoppers to dig deeper and find out where these sources learned their nutrition information, if at all. She also urges them to look at the specific food and ask what are its benefits – what does the food itself provide besides being trendy.
Stay tuned for more learnings from the Retail Dietitian Exchange. Mark next year’s conference on your calendars – RDE will be held again in Chicago and be co-located with the two shows on May 18-20, 2020.