The 2017 FMI Report on Retailer Contributions to Health & Wellness: What Dietitians Need to Know
By Shari Steinbach, MS RD, RDBA Contributing Editor
The 2017 Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Report on Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness describes the health and wellness programs of thirty-six food retail companies which responded to a survey. Respondents represent large and small operators across the United States and provides good representation of nationwide health and wellness initiatives at retail. Below is a summary of the report:
- The percentage of respondents with established health and wellness programs increased from 54% to 89% from 2014 to 2017 and 81% feel health and wellness programs are a profitable investment that attracts and retains customers.
- Programs are being led by not only teams of health experts like pharmacists and dietitians, but also leaders in marketing, human resources, consumer affairs and sales. Company presidents and CEO’s contribute in about half of respondents’ programs.
- Total store involvement is important to generate new ideas, expand financial resources, and show customers that the company is fully committed to health and well-being. Eighty-six percent of respondents have focused their programs on balancing the ill with the well clients, sending the message that their programs are “all-inclusive,” regardless of health status.
- Product sampling, healthy recipes, good-for-you products, digital apps and health screenings are some of the activities which respondents reported having in more than 50% of their banner locations.
- Additional programs include store tours, wellness and weight management programs, cooking demonstrations and classes, and nutrition counseling.
- Driving customers to “better-for-you” food choices at the shelf by identifying better-for-you attributes is a critical element to program success and is a tangible way for retailers to measure return on investment.
- All respondents have pharmacists on staff and almost 90% also report having dietitians —at the corporate level, regional level, store level and/or as consultants. Some stores also report that they employ registered nurses and nurse practitioners, physician assistants, opticians, optometrists, audiologists, and health coaches.
- Thirty-two percent of survey respondents report having in-store clinics in some of their stores which are staffed with nurse practitioners.
- Websites and social media are the leading methods of retail health and wellness promotion by these 36 retailers and 85% of respondents also use in-store signage and in-store advertising. However, while these promotional methods are most popular, a store dietitian was the most effective.
- Respondents are expanding their programs by collaborating with community partners, such as local healthcare networks, health insurance providers, allied health organizations (i.e. ADA, AHA), and worksite wellness programs. Ninety-six percent of the retailers surveyed plan to join forces with community healthcare providers in the next year.
- Retailers remain challenged to clearly define the return on investment for health and wellness programs which, in turn, may contribute to the lack of resources committed to them. Proper measurements with help retailers identify what is working, what need to be improved and what needs to go. Approximately 40% have set both qualitative and quantitative measurable goals already. Participation and attendance, consumer comments, surveys/reports and sales figures are the most utilized tracking mechanisms.
The growth and expansion of health and wellness programs at retail is predicted to continue as supermarkets capitalize on their capabilities to provide solutions that meet consumer needs within the changing healthcare environment.