By Kara Behlke, RD, LD Director of Health and Wellness Strategy at Schnuck Markets
Retail is a fast-paced environment that doesn’t often allow time to ponder how we could be more effective in our day-to-day jobs. One thing I’ve learned in order to be a better partner is you must truly and authentically be curious about learning other people’s perspectives. It helps you discover blind spots, offers new considerations on projects and makes an idea better than you could’ve created on your own. A perspective is not right or wrong; it’s a person’s point of view based on their life experiences, values, and acquired knowledge. The more you know, the more successful your programs will be.
I sat down with Joy Petty, Director of Marketing Operations, to better understand her typical day and how retail dietitians can be a good partner with the marketing department.
What are the key responsibilities of your function?
As a marketing director focused on operations, I work to develop marketing programs that excite and delight our shoppers, but are also easy for our stores to execute.
What is a day-in-the-life like for you?
In a word, hectic! There's a constant barrage of questions and ideas that need to be triaged and then executed as quickly as possible. Grocery retail is fast-paced, so start planning your projects with the marketing team as early as possible. We love working on programs that are much bigger than just changing the price of green beans. Programs that make a real impact on people or solve a common friction point for shoppers -- like empowering shoppers to make healthier choices to suit their lifestyle or encouraging kids to eat more fruits and veggies – are great.
What are the top three skills needed to be successful in retail from your perspective?
Passion, empathy and an unrelenting commitment to putting the customer first.
What keeps you up at night?
Coming up with ways to be genuinely helpful to our shoppers. To be more than just a grocery store. To be a place that shoppers would miss if we were gone. And that's where dietitians come in! Lots of places sell food, but you can be successful by developing programs that make strong connections in your shoppers' minds between your brand and health and wellness.
What do retail RDs need to understand about your role to be an effective partner?
Some marketing programs would be amazing from the shoppers’ perspective, but it's important to remember that first and foremost we need to run a grocery store. We can't put programs in place that get in the way of our customers being able to get in and out of our stores quickly, take our attention away from providing first class service or doing anything that interferes with getting the freshest food to the shelves as quickly as possible.
Find a partner on the marketing team and together you'll go far. It's important to develop programs with someone who is thinking about both the shopper and the people running the stores. When you co-create a program you're likely to come up with something that will not only wow shoppers, but also get the execution you desire.
What’s your recommended approach for evaluating the impact and ROI of retail programs?
Always start with a clear objective and know what you're trying to accomplish. That way you'll know if you were successful at the end of the campaign. Different campaigns have different goals . . . increase sales, store traffic, app downloads, awareness, shopper satisfaction, trial of a new item, etc. Pick what change you are trying to get your customers to make and be laser focused on that change. All too often programs get watered down because teams lose focus on the one thing that they are trying to accomplish. A little increase across lots of metrics isn't as powerful as a large increase in a targeted area.
How does your role intersect with buying and/or merchandising, store operations and communications?
If I'm doing my job correctly, there's tremendous overlap. The best programs and promotions have full support from both vendors and the stores. Plus, when everyone knows what's going on, both our employees and our shoppers, we're set up for success.
How do you view partnerships -- community, cobranding, etc -- in your role?
The right partnerships provide an amazing opportunity for brands! Shoppers want to buy from companies that they can relate to and feel a connection with. Don't just tell people that your store cares about health and wellness, show them by partnering in health and wellness events that the community cares about. Or find ways to partner with gyms and yoga studios so their clients start connecting your brand with other places they frequent. The more a brand can pop up throughout someone's normal day as opposed to where they expect to find you, the better.
How are you leveraging digital and social to market your company's brand and products?
With the use of digital and social we're able to target with pinpoint accuracy. We're now able to get the right message to the right person at the right time, which drastically reduces the cost of campaigns because there's much less wasted coverage. In addition, the more we know about a shopper, the more we can find ways to be a helpful partner and only talk about things that we know are of particular interest to that specific shopper.
What factors are most important to you in strategic partnerships?
It's got to be good for everyone involved or it isn't sustainable.