Guide Questions Will Appear Here

  • Ready? Let's Get Started! 3

Background & Guide Overview

The Food Marketing Institute’s research indicates that the retail grocery industry profit margin hovers around 1% of sales. Retailers are consistently looking for ways to increase profit margins, cut costs, and provide services and products that drive competitive advantage.

Health and wellness has emerged as a key trend in the retail space, and one which can drive sales, customer loyalty, and competitive advantage. In their white paper “Retailing’s critical role in revolutionizing health care and revitalizing the economy,” Staywell Custom Communications points out that “food and drug retailers provide the greatest touch points with consumers in terms of access, frequency of interaction, and pre-existing relationships of trust and loyalty, as well as the ability to deliver powerful incentives and education to motivate desired behaviors.” These are just a few of the reasons the retail setting is ideal for health promotion. Adding to it is the fact that most food buying decisions are made at the point-of-purchase, more consumers pass through a grocery store each week than watch NCIS or American Idol, and retailers sell a wide variety of brands and products, uniquely positioning them as a filter of health information presented on package.

As retailers have identified a role for their companies in health promotion and education, they have hired registered dietitians (RD)*, the nationally recognized nutrition expert. These nutrition professionals are hired at corporate, regional and store levels. They lead shopper education on nutrition and health, partner with merchandising, marketing and communications to drive sales of healthier products, engage with social and traditional media, and drive the retailers’ health brand through community outreach. The end result is increased retailer visibility, new customers and increased customer loyalty, and higher sales of better-for-you products. While twenty years ago, there were just a handful of dietitians employed by retailers, estimates suggest more than 500 RDs are employed by retailers today, with several hundred more working in a consulting capacity. These numbers illustrate customer demand for health and nutrition guidance, and assistance in selecting and preparing healthier foods.

If you’re a retailer looking to capitalize on the health and wellness trend, in part by hiring a dietitian to meet your shoppers’ health and wellness needs, look no further than this toolkit. It’s designed as a comprehensive guide, providing insight on how to effectively leverage dietitians to enhance your health reputation in your key markets and offer solutions that positively impact your shoppers and your business. This toolkit details the process of hiring dietitians, finding the right fit within your organizational structure, and creating roles that benefit your company. This toolkit also benefits retailers looking to expand or revamp their registered dietitian program with insight on potential roles of the RD and methods for evaluating the return on investment of healthy living programs.

Do you have a defined health and wellness strategy?

  • Yes 3
  • No 9

The RD is the Nutrition Expert

To understand the roles of retail dietitians, its first essential to appreciate what makes the registered dietitian the true nutrition expert. This professional completes a four-year degree in nutrition including, but not limited to, course work in biochemistry, organic chemistry, food science, behavior change and nutrition therapy. Next the RD must fulfill a supervised practical experience, followed by passage of a national registration exam. Finally, dietitians are required to complete continuing education credits throughout the span of their careers, ensuring they stay on top of the science of nutrition. Registered dietitians are food and nutrition experts, who use an evidence-based approach to translate the latest nutrition science into actionable steps that support health and well-being.

The dietitian role brings many benefits to the retail space, including:

  • Ability to filter nutrition information. Food manufacturers tout the health attributes of their products, health information runs wild on the internet, and shoppers bring interesting opinions with them when they walk in the doors of your stores. As the nutrition experts, dietitians can filter this information ensuring that your programs and services are based on sound scientific principles. This skill is highly beneficial in developing corporate positions on key nutrition topics and health trends.
  • Communicate in the language of the people. Dietitians are trained educators, and are creative and effective in making credible nutrition information meaningful to consumers.
  • Educate on food. Nutrition studies and health information are often based on nutrients, but shoppers buy and eat food. Dietitians make these connections, helping shoppers understand foods they can purchase to meet their health and wellness needs, how to prepare these foods, and how to maintain food safety throughout the process. They are also experts on meal and menu planning, essential skills for consumers looking to live healthy lives.
  • Manage diseases. As a part of their required education, dietitians are knowledgeable on disease states, causes and prevention, and the role of foods, medications, and activity. They partner with pharmacists to take a comprehensive approach to helping consumers shop your entire store to manage their health conditions.
  • Conform to legalities. Just like doctors and pharmacists, dietitians are credentialed health professionals. In many states, dietitians are also licensed. These levels of certification provide a level of security for your company.

FAQ: Does it matter if I hire a dietitian or a nutritionist?

The short answer is that a dietitian is always a nutritionist, but a nutritionist isn’t always a dietitian. A registered dietitian is required to complete an accredited four-year college program, followed by a supervised practical experience (approximately 900 hours) and then must pass a national certification exam. Additionally, this health professional is required to maintain continuing education credits throughout the scope of their career. Dietitians are recognized as the nutrition expert throughout the U.S. Because the term “nutritionist” isn’t regulated, there is no guarantee of the education or knowledge base of this person. They may have a master’s degree or PhD in nutrition, or they may have no formal training in nutrition at all. If you chose to hire a nutritionist, it’s important to understand their educational background, and to align their scope of work accordingly.

FAQ: If I have pharmacists in my stores, why do I need dietitians?

Simply put, the pharmacist is an expert on medications, the dietitian an expert on food and nutrition. The two professionals can partner effectively to provide comprehensive health and wellness guidance to your shoppers, but one does not replace the other. According to the Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy, “the mission of the profession of pharmacy is to improve public health through ensuring safe, effective, and appropriate use of medications.” The Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners articulate their Future Vision for Pharmacy Practice 2015 as “Pharmacists will be the healthcare professionals responsible for providing patient care that ensures optimal medication therapy outcomes.” This differs dramatically from the scope of practice of a registered dietitian, which as defined by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics “focuses on food and nutrition and related services developed, directed, and provided by RDs to protect the public, community, and populations; enhance the health and well-being of patients/clients; and deliver quality products, programs, and services, including Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), across all focus areas."

Size of retailer?

  • I am a small retailer 4
  • I am a medium retailer 10
  • I am a large retailer 10

The RD is the Nutrition Expert

To understand the roles of retail dietitians, its first essential to appreciate what makes the registered dietitian the true nutrition expert. This professional completes a four-year degree in nutrition including, but not limited to, course work in biochemistry, organic chemistry, food science, behavior change and nutrition therapy. Next the RD must fulfill a supervised practical experience, followed by passage of a national registration exam. Finally, dietitians are required to complete continuing education credits throughout the span of their careers, ensuring they stay on top of the science of nutrition. Registered dietitians are food and nutrition experts, who use an evidence-based approach to translate the latest nutrition science into actionable steps that support health and well-being.

The dietitian role brings many benefits to the retail space, including:

  • Ability to filter nutrition information. Food manufacturers tout the health attributes of their products, health information runs wild on the internet, and shoppers bring interesting opinions with them when they walk in the doors of your stores. As the nutrition experts, dietitians can filter this information ensuring that your programs and services are based on sound scientific principles. This skill is highly beneficial in developing corporate positions on key nutrition topics and health trends.
  • Communicate in the language of the people. Dietitians are trained educators, and are creative and effective in making credible nutrition information meaningful to consumers.
  • Educate on food. Nutrition studies and health information are often based on nutrients, but shoppers buy and eat food. Dietitians make these connections, helping shoppers understand foods they can purchase to meet their health and wellness needs, how to prepare these foods, and how to maintain food safety throughout the process. They are also experts on meal and menu planning, essential skills for consumers looking to live healthy lives.
  • Manage diseases. As a part of their required education, dietitians are knowledgeable on disease states, causes and prevention, and the role of foods, medications, and activity. They partner with pharmacists to take a comprehensive approach to helping consumers shop your entire store to manage their health conditions.
  • Conform to legalities. Just like doctors and pharmacists, dietitians are credentialed health professionals. In many states, dietitians are also licensed. These levels of certification provide a level of security for your company.

FAQ: Does it matter if I hire a dietitian or a nutritionist?

The short answer is that a dietitian is always a nutritionist, but a nutritionist isn’t always a dietitian. A registered dietitian is required to complete an accredited four-year college program, followed by a supervised practical experience (approximately 900 hours) and then must pass a national certification exam. Additionally, this health professional is required to maintain continuing education credits throughout the scope of their career. Dietitians are recognized as the nutrition expert throughout the U.S. Because the term “nutritionist” isn’t regulated, there is no guarantee of the education or knowledge base of this person. They may have a master’s degree or PhD in nutrition, or they may have no formal training in nutrition at all. If you chose to hire a nutritionist, it’s important to understand their educational background, and to align their scope of work accordingly.

FAQ: If I have pharmacists in my stores, why do I need dietitians?

Simply put, the pharmacist is an expert on medications, the dietitian an expert on food and nutrition. The two professionals can partner effectively to provide comprehensive health and wellness guidance to your shoppers, but one does not replace the other. According to the Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy, “the mission of the profession of pharmacy is to improve public health through ensuring safe, effective, and appropriate use of medications.” The Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners articulate their Future Vision for Pharmacy Practice 2015 as “Pharmacists will be the healthcare professionals responsible for providing patient care that ensures optimal medication therapy outcomes.” This differs dramatically from the scope of practice of a registered dietitian, which as defined by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics “focuses on food and nutrition and related services developed, directed, and provided by RDs to protect the public, community, and populations; enhance the health and well-being of patients/clients; and deliver quality products, programs, and services, including Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), across all focus areas."

Select one of the following:

  • I need a resource to lead our health and wellness strategy. 7
  • I need resources to execute at store level. 6
  • I want to pilot a healthy living program in a subset of our stores. 6
  • We have store RDs but need a connection to corporate. 7

 

Is the budget approved to hire FTE?

  • Yes 7
  • No 8

 

Solution:

Hire store RDs

Hire Store Retail Dietitian

Store Role

This retail dietitian has the most direct contact with individual consumers and/or employees. They are likely to offer store tours and may hold hours where they are available for shopper questions in the aisles of the store. They write shopper newsletters, offer presentation to local employers and community groups, partner with health organizations, and are active with local media. This RD is the most likely to do one-on-one consults, helping consumers manage specific health conditions. Store dietitians offer the most customized services, meeting the direct needs of their store's marketplace.

An emerging trend in the retail RD role is providing medical nutrition therapy to shoppers managing a specific health condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, food allergies, or obesity. MNT includes a comprehensive nutrition assessment and understanding of the diagnosis, planning and implementing a nutrition intervention, and monitoring the individual’s progress over future visits. MNT is reimbursable through some insurance providers. If this is a direction your retailer would like to explore, it’s essential to engage your legal teams and to hire dietitians with this direct experience as there are many regulatory and legal aspects of this service which must be considered.

FAQ: What are some of the key considerations in offering Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) as a dietitian service in my stores?

As mentioned, offering MNT is an emerging trend in the role of retail dietitians. This can be a valuable service as it has the potential to create a very loyal shopper for years to come. At the same time there are a variety of legal and regulatory considerations in offering this service in your stores. A fee structure needs to be developed and privacy rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) followed, which may include physical changes to your store layout and space. RDs will need HIPPA training. Some conditions require a physician referral to the RD for MNT. For insurance reimbursement for MNT, contracts must be negotiated with each insurance carrier in your area. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides training on MNT and insurance reimbursement and can be a valuable resource in addition to your internal regulatory and legal teams when building MNT service offerings and structure.

Store RD Information & Resources

Store Retail Dietitian Job Description

As discussed, retail RDs can take on a variety of roles and responsibilities. It's essential as you develop job descriptions to narrow these responsibilities to those that will most effectively meet the needs of your shoppers and markets, and align with your corporate goals for healthy living. Below is a sample job description. It is intentionally comprehensive, with the idea that you can then eliminate those responsibilities outside of scope for the role within your company.

A Word About Consultants

Consultant dietitians are another option to consider when looking for nutrition expertise as a part of health and wellness initiatives. Consultants can be hired on a limited time basis for a special project or to provide services for a specific number of hours each week. If you’re piloting health and wellness programs in your retail chain, a consultant can be an effective and cost-efficient resource. Once you confirm that a health and wellness program provides benefit to your business, you may choose to then hire a permanent RD position. Another use of consultants is to fill gaps at your retail stores. A corporate dietitian may develop a diabetes education program or a weight loss program for new moms, for which consultants are hired to implement in stores in your various markets. Consultant RDs can be effective as media spokespeople, managing health messaging in your social media venues, or in helping you design programs that will be meaningful to your shopper. When hiring consultants for health and wellness programs, it’s essential to address exclusivity within your markets, especially if the consultant has a public facing role for your company.

Hiring Dietitians

Once you’ve determined the right dietitian structure and your starting point in creating a health and wellness team, you’re ready to find the right talent for the role. This section of the guide provides sample job descriptions, recommendations on defining titles and salary, guidance on where and how to find the right dietitian for a retail role, and tips for recruiting. Finally, discussion is providing on measuring the return on investment of retail dietitian programs.

Titles & Salary

Every company has a system and structure of titles and pay grades. As the retail RD role is still relatively new in the industry, it’s best to look internally to determine the right title and pay grade for your dietitians. Look at the roles and responsibilities of the position and how they compare to other functions within your company when determining the fit of the RD within your organization. Factor in that all retail RD roles have significant public visibility and will represent your company publicly to the media, community partners and with your shoppers. It’s essential to ensure the position, title, and salary allows you to hire the right talent to professionally represent your health and wellness brand and drive competitive advantage for your retailer.

Bonus structure is another area where you’ll want to align the retail RD compensation with equivalent roles within your organization. Dietitians do have impact on sales, and to this end, a bonus structure is important to include in the total package if this is also a benefit provided to merchandising, marketing and operations positions.

A variety of titles are currently used for dietitians employed by retailers. Titles common for corporate level RDs include Director (or Manager) of Health & Wellness, Corporate Dietitian, or Healthy Living Director (or Manager). Regional Dietitian is the title most often used for this role, but Community Dietitian is another option. For store dietitians, Retail Dietitian, Registered Dietitian, or Supermarket Dietitian are commonly used. Healthy Living Advisor or a title that includes the name of your health and wellness program are additional options.

Hiring Tips

While spelling autocorrect in word processing systems will spell it "dietician," these professionals prefer and always use "dietitian." By using this correct spelling, you showcase your knowledge of and respect for the profession.

Today, there are more than 70,000 registered dietitians in the United States. They work in a variety of settings including hospitals and clinics, government, education, foodservice, and business and industry. Positions in the retail industry are highly coveted, and as a retailer, it’s likely you’ll receive many applications for posted positions. The benefit is that you’ll have strong talent to choose from and will be able to identify candidates that are the best fit for your company and the retail RD role you’ve defined. The challenge is in filtering through the experience and skills of candidates to ensure you hire the right talent for the position. The following recruiting and hiring tips help you ensure candidates are a good fit for a position in the retail industry:

  • Dietitians with work experience at food manufacturers, sales and marketing companies, commodity or trade organizations will understand the business side of the industry, and can quickly provide company benefit by integration health promotion into the core business. Look for dietitians with this type of experience when recruiting. In job postings, indicate that food industry experience is required. During interviews, ask questions related to business such as budget responsibility, knowledge of marketing and advertising, and experience as a self-starter.
  • Most retail dietitian roles don’t include traditional work schedules, and the ability to work a flexible schedule that includes some travel and evening and weekend commitments comes with the role. Mentioning this schedule flexibility in job descriptions and during interviews ensures candidates are aware of this role requirement.
  • All RDs bring strong nutrition knowledge to the retail role, but personality is a major consideration when hiring. Because the retail RD role is highly visible with consumers and the media, and partnerships are one of the most impactful ways to broaden the retailer’s health and wellness brand, an outgoing and energetic personality tends to work best in this role. Review applications for indications that the candidate has the right personality fit for a retail role. For example, do they have videos on YouTube, have media experience, or frequently presented to live audiences? As a part of the interview process, you may consider asking candidates to do a short presentation for those involved in the hiring process.
  • As you build a team of RDs, it’s important to round out the skills and experience they bring to the positions. This positions you to have expertise in a variety of health areas that are important to your business and your customer. When hiring your first RD, it’s essential to have candidates that will be effective at integrating nutrition into the business. As you expand, you may want to look to RDs with specific experience in key areas. For example, Certified Diabetes Educators, certification as a personal chef, fitness certification and/or fluency in a second language bring expertise that will enhance shopper engagement and the breadth and depth of health and wellness programs offered.
  • Helping consumers make healthy choices at the point-of-purchase is a key part of the retail RD’s role; just as important are educating your shoppers on how to prepare foods in a healthful manner and to build nutritious meal plans. As they engage shoppers with food on many levels, it’s essential that retail dietitians have strong culinary skills. In job postings, be clear that strong culinary skills are a requirement of the role. During interviews, probe on the RDs experience in cooking and meal planning.
Measuring Return on Investment (ROI)

Retail margins are tight, and retail leadership is always looking at the bottom line. Because health and wellness is now a core business strategy, evaluating the return on investment of programs and services offered to shoppers is of high interest. There are a variety of ways in which the value of retail RD positions and healthy living services can be measured, including:

  • Increased customer loyalty. Many of the dietitian’s offerings are services, and customer loyalty is a way to measure the effectiveness of these programs. Surveys administered after store tours or community presentations assess how shoppers perceive the benefit. Register receipt surveys assess loyalty of customers who have utilized your dietitian services vs. those who haven’t. Consumer Affairs functions track shopper feedback on dietitian and all health and wellness offerings by your company.
  • Higher sales of better-for-you products. Dietitians promote healthier products through a variety of ways – in-store magazines and demos, store tours, media spots, shelf tags, e-newsletters to shoppers. Sales of these products are tracked to determine if there’s a sales lift while they’re being promoted by the dietitian.
  • Increased basket size and/or frequency of visits. If your company has a loyalty card program, it’s relatively easy to track the habits of customers who participate in health and wellness offerings. For example, loyalty cards are scanned for those attending a store tour or cooking or education class, and these shoppers tracked to see if their basket sizes or visits increase after the event. You can also identify better-for-you products as markers to assess if they are purchased more frequently after engagement with your dietitians. RDs often sell shopper solutions in the form of meals and meal plans, promoting the addition of other items to the cart. The impact of this solution service on basket size is traceable.
  • Fee for Service. Retail dietitians may offer store tours, demos, e-newsletters and other health services for free, but charge a fee for other offerings like one-on-one consults and cooking classes. This revenue contributes to the ROI of health and wellness initiatives.
  • Employee wellness. As mentioned, retail RDs are often involved with employee healthy living programs. If you conduct annual health screenings and assessments on your employee group, you can evaluate if those who have participated in health and wellness programs have improved biometric data and define the financial benefit of this is to your company.
  • Consumer impressions. Media is an effective way to reach your existing shoppers as well as potential new customers. Most media outlets can provide data on media impressions for spots run by the retail dietitian. A variety of methods exist in social media to track the number of consumers reached through tweets, Twitter parties and Facebook “likes.” The number of consumers reached through community outreach events, worksite presentations, and partnerships can be tracked. While the quality of these impressions isn’t always clear, these numbers are valuable in evaluating and communicating the benefit of healthy living programs.
  • Vendor Funded Programs. Dietitians frequently partner with national, regional and local food companies on programs that promote health and wellness and as a part of this, specific products of the food vendor. These programs can include articles and recipes published in store magazines and on company websites, in-store demos, inclusion of products in a store tour, or promotional space allowances. Retail dietitians typically have nutrition criteria established for products that can be promoted within these programs, to ensure they meet the company’s health and wellness guidelines. Funding of these programs can be included when measuring the return on investment.
Sample RD Structure

Sample Dietitian Team Structures

The following diagrams provide insight into potential RD team structures within your chain whether you are launching, expanding or revamping a dietitian program. The size of your retailer, the geographic scope, and demographics of your markets can all impact the structure you choose to implement. Additionally, you may start with one or a few RDs and fill out the structure as you prove the return on investment of healthy living programs for your shoppers.

Option #1

This option is ideal for retailers with the majority of their stores centered in market areas and a centralized corporate structure. The corporate dietitian role is at the headquarters location, leveraging the ability to partner with other internal departments such as marketing, communications, human resources, merchandising and owned brands. A regional dietitian is hired for each key market and provides store, community and shopper services across multiple stores. A benefit of this program is that nutrition services and health promotions can be developed at the corporate level but implemented by each regional RD, while at the same time services can be tailored to meet the unique needs of the local communities. For example, 60% of the RD’s work may be corporately driven, with 40% unique to the market. This structure works well for retailers piloting health and wellness programs as RDs can be added to regions over time as the benefit of healthy living programs for shoppers is realized.

Option #2

This option works well for large retailers fully committed to health and wellness as a differentiator for their company. The benefits of Option 1 are realized, with a corporate RD leading the dietitian team and directing nutrition services that meet shoppers’ needs as well as the company’s goals for health and wellness. The addition of store RDs, however, provides a more personal and direct relationship with the store’s customers and allows for an expanded in-store experience. In this model, the regional RDs may work in a managerial role over the store dietitians. Depending on the size of the retailer, the regional RD role may or may not exist. With smaller retailers, for example, store dietitians may report directly to a corporate RD. Alternatively, store RDs may report to the store director with a dotted line to a regional or corporate dietitian.

Option #3

The work of dietitians in the retail setting is definitely cross-functional. From marketing to communications to merchandising to store management to pharmacy, healthy living programs and initiatives are most effectively integrated into all these departments of a retail company. In this option, the focus is on store level dietitians, who provide direct services to shoppers and the local community and report through a department of the company with significant leadership of the company’s health and wellness strategy. This structure would also work for regional RDs in place of store RDs.

Sample Health and Wellness Organizations

Another key difference which can impact the retail RD role is their reporting hierarchy within your company. RDs who report through marketing or communications are often more involved in leveraging nutrition in existing retail programs such as website, circulars, advertising, etc. This reporting relationship may have the broadest opportunity to impact other departments of the store, and the merchandising and in-store promotion of healthier products. Store dietitians who report through the store director may have more autonomy in the services offered as well as engage in and lead more initiatives that directly relate to the demographic of their store’s market area. A variety of options for reporting structures are shown here as examples. They can be customized to align with your current organization.



Solution:

Hire Corporate RD to build and execute strategy.

Hire Corporate Retail Dietitian

Corporate Role

Dietitians working in a corporate role develop strategic plans, lead health and wellness initiatives, and can also manage regional and/or store dietitians. They have greater access to company leadership, communications and marketing teams, and category buyers and managers. If a RD is hired at the corporate level, consumer education is more focused on traditional and social media, and promotional efforts and programs which can be implemented through other functions at the store level. This dietitian is a valuable asset to merchandising and marketing teams in work on healthy living promotions with food manufacturers and other vendors. The corporate retail dietitian has limited direct contact with consumers compared to retail dietitians at a regional or in-store level.

  • Owned Brands. A core component of retail healthy living programs is offering private label products with health attributes (i.e. low sodium, good source of fiber, organic). A dietitian at the corporate level is available to provide nutrition guidance to the owned brands team, suggesting nutrition guardrails for products, building the case for healthier brands, and ensuring new product development aligns with current nutrition trends. Some dietitians also have experience in regulatory affairs, and can manage the labeling and regulatory affairs function for private label.
  • Employee Wellness. As retailers continue to manage health care and insurance costs for employees, they are expanding their health and wellness efforts for team members. RDs’ roles may be partially or totally focused on employee wellness. Employees are also viewed as shoppers, and for this reason, are often reached with consumer education along with other store customers. As employees become more educated on healthy living principles and the offerings of your retail chain, they become health advocates in every aisle of the store, able to answer basic consumer questions as well as direct shoppers to the RD services and programs.
  • Consumer Affairs. As technology evolves, consumer-retailer engagement has expanded from letters in the mail and 800-line calls to Twitter comments, web posts and Facebook questions. Corporate retail dietitians can develop position statements on key issues for consumer response, respond to nutrition inquiries, and develop programs and services based on frequent consumer interests through these consumer affairs mediums.

Corporate RD Information & Resources

Corporate Retail Dietitian Job Description

As discussed, retail RDs can take on a variety of roles and responsibilities. It's essential as you develop job descriptions to narrow these responsibilities to those that will most effectively meet the needs of your shoppers and markets, and align with your corporate goals for healthy living. Below is a sample job description. It is intentionally comprehensive, with the idea that you can then eliminate those responsibilities outside of scope for the role within your company.

A Word About Consultants

Consultant dietitians are another option to consider when looking for nutrition expertise as a part of health and wellness initiatives. Consultants can be hired on a limited time basis for a special project or to provide services for a specific number of hours each week. If you’re piloting health and wellness programs in your retail chain, a consultant can be an effective and cost-efficient resource. Once you confirm that a health and wellness program provides benefit to your business, you may choose to then hire a permanent RD position. Another use of consultants is to fill gaps at your retail stores. A corporate dietitian may develop a diabetes education program or a weight loss program for new moms, for which consultants are hired to implement in stores in your various markets. Consultant RDs can be effective as media spokespeople, managing health messaging in your social media venues, or in helping you design programs that will be meaningful to your shopper. When hiring consultants for health and wellness programs, it’s essential to address exclusivity within your markets, especially if the consultant has a public facing role for your company.

Hiring Dietitians

Once you’ve determined the right dietitian structure and your starting point in creating a health and wellness team, you’re ready to find the right talent for the role. This section of the guide provides sample job descriptions, recommendations on defining titles and salary, guidance on where and how to find the right dietitian for a retail role, and tips for recruiting. Finally, discussion is providing on measuring the return on investment of retail dietitian programs.

Titles & Salary

Every company has a system and structure of titles and pay grades. As the retail RD role is still relatively new in the industry, it’s best to look internally to determine the right title and pay grade for your dietitians. Look at the roles and responsibilities of the position and how they compare to other functions within your company when determining the fit of the RD within your organization. Factor in that all retail RD roles have significant public visibility and will represent your company publicly to the media, community partners and with your shoppers. It’s essential to ensure the position, title, and salary allows you to hire the right talent to professionally represent your health and wellness brand and drive competitive advantage for your retailer.

Bonus structure is another area where you’ll want to align the retail RD compensation with equivalent roles within your organization. Dietitians do have impact on sales, and to this end, a bonus structure is important to include in the total package if this is also a benefit provided to merchandising, marketing and operations positions.

A variety of titles are currently used for dietitians employed by retailers. Titles common for corporate level RDs include Director (or Manager) of Health & Wellness, Corporate Dietitian, or Healthy Living Director (or Manager). Regional Dietitian is the title most often used for this role, but Community Dietitian is another option. For store dietitians, Retail Dietitian, Registered Dietitian, or Supermarket Dietitian are commonly used. Healthy Living Advisor or a title that includes the name of your health and wellness program are additional options.

Hiring Tips

While spelling autocorrect in word processing systems will spell it "dietician," these professionals prefer and always use "dietitian." By using this correct spelling, you showcase your knowledge of and respect for the profession.

Today, there are more than 70,000 registered dietitians in the United States. They work in a variety of settings including hospitals and clinics, government, education, foodservice, and business and industry. Positions in the retail industry are highly coveted, and as a retailer, it’s likely you’ll receive many applications for posted positions. The benefit is that you’ll have strong talent to choose from and will be able to identify candidates that are the best fit for your company and the retail RD role you’ve defined. The challenge is in filtering through the experience and skills of candidates to ensure you hire the right talent for the position. The following recruiting and hiring tips help you ensure candidates are a good fit for a position in the retail industry:

  • Dietitians with work experience at food manufacturers, sales and marketing companies, commodity or trade organizations will understand the business side of the industry, and can quickly provide company benefit by integration health promotion into the core business. Look for dietitians with this type of experience when recruiting. In job postings, indicate that food industry experience is required. During interviews, ask questions related to business such as budget responsibility, knowledge of marketing and advertising, and experience as a self-starter.
  • Most retail dietitian roles don’t include traditional work schedules, and the ability to work a flexible schedule that includes some travel and evening and weekend commitments comes with the role. Mentioning this schedule flexibility in job descriptions and during interviews ensures candidates are aware of this role requirement.
  • All RDs bring strong nutrition knowledge to the retail role, but personality is a major consideration when hiring. Because the retail RD role is highly visible with consumers and the media, and partnerships are one of the most impactful ways to broaden the retailer’s health and wellness brand, an outgoing and energetic personality tends to work best in this role. Review applications for indications that the candidate has the right personality fit for a retail role. For example, do they have videos on YouTube, have media experience, or frequently presented to live audiences? As a part of the interview process, you may consider asking candidates to do a short presentation for those involved in the hiring process.
  • As you build a team of RDs, it’s important to round out the skills and experience they bring to the positions. This positions you to have expertise in a variety of health areas that are important to your business and your customer. When hiring your first RD, it’s essential to have candidates that will be effective at integrating nutrition into the business. As you expand, you may want to look to RDs with specific experience in key areas. For example, Certified Diabetes Educators, certification as a personal chef, fitness certification and/or fluency in a second language bring expertise that will enhance shopper engagement and the breadth and depth of health and wellness programs offered.
  • Helping consumers make healthy choices at the point-of-purchase is a key part of the retail RD’s role; just as important are educating your shoppers on how to prepare foods in a healthful manner and to build nutritious meal plans. As they engage shoppers with food on many levels, it’s essential that retail dietitians have strong culinary skills. In job postings, be clear that strong culinary skills are a requirement of the role. During interviews, probe on the RDs experience in cooking and meal planning.
Measuring Return on Investment (ROI)

Retail margins are tight, and retail leadership is always looking at the bottom line. Because health and wellness is now a core business strategy, evaluating the return on investment of programs and services offered to shoppers is of high interest. There are a variety of ways in which the value of retail RD positions and healthy living services can be measured, including:

  • Increased customer loyalty. Many of the dietitian’s offerings are services, and customer loyalty is a way to measure the effectiveness of these programs. Surveys administered after store tours or community presentations assess how shoppers perceive the benefit. Register receipt surveys assess loyalty of customers who have utilized your dietitian services vs. those who haven’t. Consumer Affairs functions track shopper feedback on dietitian and all health and wellness offerings by your company.
  • Higher sales of better-for-you products. Dietitians promote healthier products through a variety of ways – in-store magazines and demos, store tours, media spots, shelf tags, e-newsletters to shoppers. Sales of these products are tracked to determine if there’s a sales lift while they’re being promoted by the dietitian.
  • Increased basket size and/or frequency of visits. If your company has a loyalty card program, it’s relatively easy to track the habits of customers who participate in health and wellness offerings. For example, loyalty cards are scanned for those attending a store tour or cooking or education class, and these shoppers tracked to see if their basket sizes or visits increase after the event. You can also identify better-for-you products as markers to assess if they are purchased more frequently after engagement with your dietitians. RDs often sell shopper solutions in the form of meals and meal plans, promoting the addition of other items to the cart. The impact of this solution service on basket size is traceable.
  • Fee for Service. Retail dietitians may offer store tours, demos, e-newsletters and other health services for free, but charge a fee for other offerings like one-on-one consults and cooking classes. This revenue contributes to the ROI of health and wellness initiatives.
  • Employee wellness. As mentioned, retail RDs are often involved with employee healthy living programs. If you conduct annual health screenings and assessments on your employee group, you can evaluate if those who have participated in health and wellness programs have improved biometric data and define the financial benefit of this is to your company.
  • Consumer impressions. Media is an effective way to reach your existing shoppers as well as potential new customers. Most media outlets can provide data on media impressions for spots run by the retail dietitian. A variety of methods exist in social media to track the number of consumers reached through tweets, Twitter parties and Facebook “likes.” The number of consumers reached through community outreach events, worksite presentations, and partnerships can be tracked. While the quality of these impressions isn’t always clear, these numbers are valuable in evaluating and communicating the benefit of healthy living programs.
  • Vendor Funded Programs. Dietitians frequently partner with national, regional and local food companies on programs that promote health and wellness and as a part of this, specific products of the food vendor. These programs can include articles and recipes published in store magazines and on company websites, in-store demos, inclusion of products in a store tour, or promotional space allowances. Retail dietitians typically have nutrition criteria established for products that can be promoted within these programs, to ensure they meet the company’s health and wellness guidelines. Funding of these programs can be included when measuring the return on investment.
Sample RD Structure

Sample Dietitian Team Structures

The following diagrams provide insight into potential RD team structures within your chain whether you are launching, expanding or revamping a dietitian program. The size of your retailer, the geographic scope, and demographics of your markets can all impact the structure you choose to implement. Additionally, you may start with one or a few RDs and fill out the structure as you prove the return on investment of healthy living programs for your shoppers.

Option #1

This option is ideal for retailers with the majority of their stores centered in market areas and a centralized corporate structure. The corporate dietitian role is at the headquarters location, leveraging the ability to partner with other internal departments such as marketing, communications, human resources, merchandising and owned brands. A regional dietitian is hired for each key market and provides store, community and shopper services across multiple stores. A benefit of this program is that nutrition services and health promotions can be developed at the corporate level but implemented by each regional RD, while at the same time services can be tailored to meet the unique needs of the local communities. For example, 60% of the RD’s work may be corporately driven, with 40% unique to the market. This structure works well for retailers piloting health and wellness programs as RDs can be added to regions over time as the benefit of healthy living programs for shoppers is realized.

Option #2

This option works well for large retailers fully committed to health and wellness as a differentiator for their company. The benefits of Option 1 are realized, with a corporate RD leading the dietitian team and directing nutrition services that meet shoppers’ needs as well as the company’s goals for health and wellness. The addition of store RDs, however, provides a more personal and direct relationship with the store’s customers and allows for an expanded in-store experience. In this model, the regional RDs may work in a managerial role over the store dietitians. Depending on the size of the retailer, the regional RD role may or may not exist. With smaller retailers, for example, store dietitians may report directly to a corporate RD. Alternatively, store RDs may report to the store director with a dotted line to a regional or corporate dietitian.

Option #3

The work of dietitians in the retail setting is definitely cross-functional. From marketing to communications to merchandising to store management to pharmacy, healthy living programs and initiatives are most effectively integrated into all these departments of a retail company. In this option, the focus is on store level dietitians, who provide direct services to shoppers and the local community and report through a department of the company with significant leadership of the company’s health and wellness strategy. This structure would also work for regional RDs in place of store RDs.

Sample Health and Wellness Organizations

Another key difference which can impact the retail RD role is their reporting hierarchy within your company. RDs who report through marketing or communications are often more involved in leveraging nutrition in existing retail programs such as website, circulars, advertising, etc. This reporting relationship may have the broadest opportunity to impact other departments of the store, and the merchandising and in-store promotion of healthier products. Store dietitians who report through the store director may have more autonomy in the services offered as well as engage in and lead more initiatives that directly relate to the demographic of their store’s market area. A variety of options for reporting structures are shown here as examples. They can be customized to align with your current organization.



Solution:

Hire consultant RD. Build to FTE as budget allows.

 

Solution:

Identify Company Needs

Identify Company Needs

Assessing the needs of your company and your shoppers is the first step to determining whether and how to add dietitians to your organization. While there are a variety of methods that can be used for needs assessment, the key is to ensure your process captures data in the following areas:

  • Competition. Understanding health and wellness programs and services offered by competitive retailers in your key markets is a crucial first step in determining and prioritizing initiatives to rollout within your own company. Do they have dietitians on staff? If yes, what programs do the RDs offer? How are they organized? What media outlets are they active with in your key markets? Do they have meeting space where classes can be held or demo kitchens for cooking classes? What healthy living services are offered in pharmacy? A shopping trip to assess competitors’ health and wellness offerings can be extremely valuable in understanding how a dietitian can differentiate your offerings and add value to your business.
  • Corporate Philosophy. Companies may have a value structure where employees are the first level of action as it relates to health promotion. Other retailers choose to focus directly on shoppers. It’s important to understand these and other corporate philosophies that may impact your approach to offering health and nutrition services.
  • Pharmacy. Whether you have pharmacies in all or some of your stores as well as the role of your pharmacists can play into how you hire dietitians. The programs offered by your pharmacy, such as diabetes education programs or reduced pricing on specific medications, can impact the role a RD may play within your company. Understanding the primary health conditions being managed through your pharmacy can direct the work of a retail dietitian related to disease management. If you don’t have pharmacies in your chain, you may want the retail dietitian to take a more active role in educating the consumer on vitamins, minerals, and supplements, crossing over into this area from food.
  • Supermarket Chefs. Ready-to-heat, ready-to-eat, and grab-n-go are all significant trends impacting the retail industry. To meet this consumer need for convenience, many retailers have chefs in their stores. Similar to the discussion about pharmacists, whether you have chefs in your stores can also impact how you position and leverage the retail dietitian role. Cooking demos and classes, for example, can be more effective at helping shoppers understand healthy food preparation techniques when developed and presented by a dietitian-chef team. This duo can also define the right assortment in deli and bakery to meet both the taste and health needs of your shoppers.
  • Demographics. The demographics of the U.S. are shifting with the aging of the Baby Boomers and increase in Hispanic citizens. The economy has led consumers to shift their priorities, as today more than ever they are looking for value in their shopping experience. Having a strong understanding of the demographics in your key markets can help determine if there are specific skills you’ll want to include when hiring dietitians as well as in determining the health and wellness offerings of your company. For example, in some Southern states, a dietitian with a strong understanding of Hispanic foods and culture will help your company most effectively position health programs to meet the needs of this consumer segment. Dietitians who have strong experience in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other conditions common with aging will be successful in building programs targeted at Boomer audiences.
  • Shopper Insights. Retailers and food manufacturers alike conduct research to understand how and when their shoppers shop, purchase decision drivers, and the impact of merchandising and marketing on shopper behavior. Category sales and loyalty card data can provide insight into shoppers’ health and wellness needs. Consumer feedback through an 800-line, your social media outlets, and e-mail/US mail can help you understand your shoppers’ nutrition needs and what services would make them shop your stores exclusively.

There are many roles a dietitian can play within the retail setting. Gathering, synthesizing and assessing this data as a part of an overall needs assessment will help you to determine the most effective role for a dietitian within your company and corporate strategies. In the next phase, you’ll learn about potential roles for retail dietitians and identify the right fit for them within your company.

 

Select one of the following:

  • I need a resource to lead our health and wellness strategy. 11
  • My stores are located in key markets. 13
  • I am piloting health and wellness in key markets. 13
  • I need resources to execute at store level. 14
  • We have store RDs but need a connection to corporate. 11
  • Our store RD program has grown and we need a RD team structure. 15

 

Solution:

Hire corporate RD

Hire Corporate Retail Dietitian

Corporate Role

Dietitians working in a corporate role develop strategic plans, lead health and wellness initiatives, and can also manage regional and/or store dietitians. They have greater access to company leadership, communications and marketing teams, and category buyers and managers. If a RD is hired at the corporate level, consumer education is more focused on traditional and social media, and promotional efforts and programs which can be implemented through other functions at the store level. This dietitian is a valuable asset to merchandising and marketing teams in work on healthy living promotions with food manufacturers and other vendors. The corporate retail dietitian has limited direct contact with consumers compared to retail dietitians at a regional or in-store level.

  • Owned Brands. A core component of retail healthy living programs is offering private label products with health attributes (i.e. low sodium, good source of fiber, organic). A dietitian at the corporate level is available to provide nutrition guidance to the owned brands team, suggesting nutrition guardrails for products, building the case for healthier brands, and ensuring new product development aligns with current nutrition trends. Some dietitians also have experience in regulatory affairs, and can manage the labeling and regulatory affairs function for private label.
  • Employee Wellness. As retailers continue to manage health care and insurance costs for employees, they are expanding their health and wellness efforts for team members. RDs’ roles may be partially or totally focused on employee wellness. Employees are also viewed as shoppers, and for this reason, are often reached with consumer education along with other store customers. As employees become more educated on healthy living principles and the offerings of your retail chain, they become health advocates in every aisle of the store, able to answer basic consumer questions as well as direct shoppers to the RD services and programs.
  • Consumer Affairs. As technology evolves, consumer-retailer engagement has expanded from letters in the mail and 800-line calls to Twitter comments, web posts and Facebook questions. Corporate retail dietitians can develop position statements on key issues for consumer response, respond to nutrition inquiries, and develop programs and services based on frequent consumer interests through these consumer affairs mediums.

Corporate RD Information & Resources

Corporate Retail Dietitian Job Description

As discussed, retail RDs can take on a variety of roles and responsibilities. It's essential as you develop job descriptions to narrow these responsibilities to those that will most effectively meet the needs of your shoppers and markets, and align with your corporate goals for healthy living. Below is a sample job description. It is intentionally comprehensive, with the idea that you can then eliminate those responsibilities outside of scope for the role within your company.

A Word About Consultants

Consultant dietitians are another option to consider when looking for nutrition expertise as a part of health and wellness initiatives. Consultants can be hired on a limited time basis for a special project or to provide services for a specific number of hours each week. If you’re piloting health and wellness programs in your retail chain, a consultant can be an effective and cost-efficient resource. Once you confirm that a health and wellness program provides benefit to your business, you may choose to then hire a permanent RD position. Another use of consultants is to fill gaps at your retail stores. A corporate dietitian may develop a diabetes education program or a weight loss program for new moms, for which consultants are hired to implement in stores in your various markets. Consultant RDs can be effective as media spokespeople, managing health messaging in your social media venues, or in helping you design programs that will be meaningful to your shopper. When hiring consultants for health and wellness programs, it’s essential to address exclusivity within your markets, especially if the consultant has a public facing role for your company.

Hiring Dietitians

Once you’ve determined the right dietitian structure and your starting point in creating a health and wellness team, you’re ready to find the right talent for the role. This section of the guide provides sample job descriptions, recommendations on defining titles and salary, guidance on where and how to find the right dietitian for a retail role, and tips for recruiting. Finally, discussion is providing on measuring the return on investment of retail dietitian programs.

Titles & Salary

Every company has a system and structure of titles and pay grades. As the retail RD role is still relatively new in the industry, it’s best to look internally to determine the right title and pay grade for your dietitians. Look at the roles and responsibilities of the position and how they compare to other functions within your company when determining the fit of the RD within your organization. Factor in that all retail RD roles have significant public visibility and will represent your company publicly to the media, community partners and with your shoppers. It’s essential to ensure the position, title, and salary allows you to hire the right talent to professionally represent your health and wellness brand and drive competitive advantage for your retailer.

Bonus structure is another area where you’ll want to align the retail RD compensation with equivalent roles within your organization. Dietitians do have impact on sales, and to this end, a bonus structure is important to include in the total package if this is also a benefit provided to merchandising, marketing and operations positions.

A variety of titles are currently used for dietitians employed by retailers. Titles common for corporate level RDs include Director (or Manager) of Health & Wellness, Corporate Dietitian, or Healthy Living Director (or Manager). Regional Dietitian is the title most often used for this role, but Community Dietitian is another option. For store dietitians, Retail Dietitian, Registered Dietitian, or Supermarket Dietitian are commonly used. Healthy Living Advisor or a title that includes the name of your health and wellness program are additional options.

Hiring Tips

While spelling autocorrect in word processing systems will spell it "dietician," these professionals prefer and always use "dietitian." By using this correct spelling, you showcase your knowledge of and respect for the profession.

Today, there are more than 70,000 registered dietitians in the United States. They work in a variety of settings including hospitals and clinics, government, education, foodservice, and business and industry. Positions in the retail industry are highly coveted, and as a retailer, it’s likely you’ll receive many applications for posted positions. The benefit is that you’ll have strong talent to choose from and will be able to identify candidates that are the best fit for your company and the retail RD role you’ve defined. The challenge is in filtering through the experience and skills of candidates to ensure you hire the right talent for the position. The following recruiting and hiring tips help you ensure candidates are a good fit for a position in the retail industry:

  • Dietitians with work experience at food manufacturers, sales and marketing companies, commodity or trade organizations will understand the business side of the industry, and can quickly provide company benefit by integration health promotion into the core business. Look for dietitians with this type of experience when recruiting. In job postings, indicate that food industry experience is required. During interviews, ask questions related to business such as budget responsibility, knowledge of marketing and advertising, and experience as a self-starter.
  • Most retail dietitian roles don’t include traditional work schedules, and the ability to work a flexible schedule that includes some travel and evening and weekend commitments comes with the role. Mentioning this schedule flexibility in job descriptions and during interviews ensures candidates are aware of this role requirement.
  • All RDs bring strong nutrition knowledge to the retail role, but personality is a major consideration when hiring. Because the retail RD role is highly visible with consumers and the media, and partnerships are one of the most impactful ways to broaden the retailer’s health and wellness brand, an outgoing and energetic personality tends to work best in this role. Review applications for indications that the candidate has the right personality fit for a retail role. For example, do they have videos on YouTube, have media experience, or frequently presented to live audiences? As a part of the interview process, you may consider asking candidates to do a short presentation for those involved in the hiring process.
  • As you build a team of RDs, it’s important to round out the skills and experience they bring to the positions. This positions you to have expertise in a variety of health areas that are important to your business and your customer. When hiring your first RD, it’s essential to have candidates that will be effective at integrating nutrition into the business. As you expand, you may want to look to RDs with specific experience in key areas. For example, Certified Diabetes Educators, certification as a personal chef, fitness certification and/or fluency in a second language bring expertise that will enhance shopper engagement and the breadth and depth of health and wellness programs offered.
  • Helping consumers make healthy choices at the point-of-purchase is a key part of the retail RD’s role; just as important are educating your shoppers on how to prepare foods in a healthful manner and to build nutritious meal plans. As they engage shoppers with food on many levels, it’s essential that retail dietitians have strong culinary skills. In job postings, be clear that strong culinary skills are a requirement of the role. During interviews, probe on the RDs experience in cooking and meal planning.
Measuring Return on Investment (ROI)

Retail margins are tight, and retail leadership is always looking at the bottom line. Because health and wellness is now a core business strategy, evaluating the return on investment of programs and services offered to shoppers is of high interest. There are a variety of ways in which the value of retail RD positions and healthy living services can be measured, including:

  • Increased customer loyalty. Many of the dietitian’s offerings are services, and customer loyalty is a way to measure the effectiveness of these programs. Surveys administered after store tours or community presentations assess how shoppers perceive the benefit. Register receipt surveys assess loyalty of customers who have utilized your dietitian services vs. those who haven’t. Consumer Affairs functions track shopper feedback on dietitian and all health and wellness offerings by your company.
  • Higher sales of better-for-you products. Dietitians promote healthier products through a variety of ways – in-store magazines and demos, store tours, media spots, shelf tags, e-newsletters to shoppers. Sales of these products are tracked to determine if there’s a sales lift while they’re being promoted by the dietitian.
  • Increased basket size and/or frequency of visits. If your company has a loyalty card program, it’s relatively easy to track the habits of customers who participate in health and wellness offerings. For example, loyalty cards are scanned for those attending a store tour or cooking or education class, and these shoppers tracked to see if their basket sizes or visits increase after the event. You can also identify better-for-you products as markers to assess if they are purchased more frequently after engagement with your dietitians. RDs often sell shopper solutions in the form of meals and meal plans, promoting the addition of other items to the cart. The impact of this solution service on basket size is traceable.
  • Fee for Service. Retail dietitians may offer store tours, demos, e-newsletters and other health services for free, but charge a fee for other offerings like one-on-one consults and cooking classes. This revenue contributes to the ROI of health and wellness initiatives.
  • Employee wellness. As mentioned, retail RDs are often involved with employee healthy living programs. If you conduct annual health screenings and assessments on your employee group, you can evaluate if those who have participated in health and wellness programs have improved biometric data and define the financial benefit of this is to your company.
  • Consumer impressions. Media is an effective way to reach your existing shoppers as well as potential new customers. Most media outlets can provide data on media impressions for spots run by the retail dietitian. A variety of methods exist in social media to track the number of consumers reached through tweets, Twitter parties and Facebook “likes.” The number of consumers reached through community outreach events, worksite presentations, and partnerships can be tracked. While the quality of these impressions isn’t always clear, these numbers are valuable in evaluating and communicating the benefit of healthy living programs.
  • Vendor Funded Programs. Dietitians frequently partner with national, regional and local food companies on programs that promote health and wellness and as a part of this, specific products of the food vendor. These programs can include articles and recipes published in store magazines and on company websites, in-store demos, inclusion of products in a store tour, or promotional space allowances. Retail dietitians typically have nutrition criteria established for products that can be promoted within these programs, to ensure they meet the company’s health and wellness guidelines. Funding of these programs can be included when measuring the return on investment.
Sample RD Structure

Sample Dietitian Team Structures

The following diagrams provide insight into potential RD team structures within your chain whether you are launching, expanding or revamping a dietitian program. The size of your retailer, the geographic scope, and demographics of your markets can all impact the structure you choose to implement. Additionally, you may start with one or a few RDs and fill out the structure as you prove the return on investment of healthy living programs for your shoppers.

Option #1

This option is ideal for retailers with the majority of their stores centered in market areas and a centralized corporate structure. The corporate dietitian role is at the headquarters location, leveraging the ability to partner with other internal departments such as marketing, communications, human resources, merchandising and owned brands. A regional dietitian is hired for each key market and provides store, community and shopper services across multiple stores. A benefit of this program is that nutrition services and health promotions can be developed at the corporate level but implemented by each regional RD, while at the same time services can be tailored to meet the unique needs of the local communities. For example, 60% of the RD’s work may be corporately driven, with 40% unique to the market. This structure works well for retailers piloting health and wellness programs as RDs can be added to regions over time as the benefit of healthy living programs for shoppers is realized.

Option #2

This option works well for large retailers fully committed to health and wellness as a differentiator for their company. The benefits of Option 1 are realized, with a corporate RD leading the dietitian team and directing nutrition services that meet shoppers’ needs as well as the company’s goals for health and wellness. The addition of store RDs, however, provides a more personal and direct relationship with the store’s customers and allows for an expanded in-store experience. In this model, the regional RDs may work in a managerial role over the store dietitians. Depending on the size of the retailer, the regional RD role may or may not exist. With smaller retailers, for example, store dietitians may report directly to a corporate RD. Alternatively, store RDs may report to the store director with a dotted line to a regional or corporate dietitian.

Option #3

The work of dietitians in the retail setting is definitely cross-functional. From marketing to communications to merchandising to store management to pharmacy, healthy living programs and initiatives are most effectively integrated into all these departments of a retail company. In this option, the focus is on store level dietitians, who provide direct services to shoppers and the local community and report through a department of the company with significant leadership of the company’s health and wellness strategy. This structure would also work for regional RDs in place of store RDs.

Sample Health and Wellness Organizations

Another key difference which can impact the retail RD role is their reporting hierarchy within your company. RDs who report through marketing or communications are often more involved in leveraging nutrition in existing retail programs such as website, circulars, advertising, etc. This reporting relationship may have the broadest opportunity to impact other departments of the store, and the merchandising and in-store promotion of healthier products. Store dietitians who report through the store director may have more autonomy in the services offered as well as engage in and lead more initiatives that directly relate to the demographic of their store’s market area. A variety of options for reporting structures are shown here as examples. They can be customized to align with your current organization.



Solution:

Hire store RDs

Hire Store Retail Dietitian

Store Role

This retail dietitian has the most direct contact with individual consumers and/or employees. They are likely to offer store tours and may hold hours where they are available for shopper questions in the aisles of the store. They write shopper newsletters, offer presentation to local employers and community groups, partner with health organizations, and are active with local media. This RD is the most likely to do one-on-one consults, helping consumers manage specific health conditions. Store dietitians offer the most customized services, meeting the direct needs of their store's marketplace.

An emerging trend in the retail RD role is providing medical nutrition therapy to shoppers managing a specific health condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, food allergies, or obesity. MNT includes a comprehensive nutrition assessment and understanding of the diagnosis, planning and implementing a nutrition intervention, and monitoring the individual’s progress over future visits. MNT is reimbursable through some insurance providers. If this is a direction your retailer would like to explore, it’s essential to engage your legal teams and to hire dietitians with this direct experience as there are many regulatory and legal aspects of this service which must be considered.

FAQ: What are some of the key considerations in offering Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) as a dietitian service in my stores?

As mentioned, offering MNT is an emerging trend in the role of retail dietitians. This can be a valuable service as it has the potential to create a very loyal shopper for years to come. At the same time there are a variety of legal and regulatory considerations in offering this service in your stores. A fee structure needs to be developed and privacy rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) followed, which may include physical changes to your store layout and space. RDs will need HIPPA training. Some conditions require a physician referral to the RD for MNT. For insurance reimbursement for MNT, contracts must be negotiated with each insurance carrier in your area. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides training on MNT and insurance reimbursement and can be a valuable resource in addition to your internal regulatory and legal teams when building MNT service offerings and structure.

Store RD Information & Resources

Store Retail Dietitian Job Description

As discussed, retail RDs can take on a variety of roles and responsibilities. It's essential as you develop job descriptions to narrow these responsibilities to those that will most effectively meet the needs of your shoppers and markets, and align with your corporate goals for healthy living. Below is a sample job description. It is intentionally comprehensive, with the idea that you can then eliminate those responsibilities outside of scope for the role within your company.

A Word About Consultants

Consultant dietitians are another option to consider when looking for nutrition expertise as a part of health and wellness initiatives. Consultants can be hired on a limited time basis for a special project or to provide services for a specific number of hours each week. If you’re piloting health and wellness programs in your retail chain, a consultant can be an effective and cost-efficient resource. Once you confirm that a health and wellness program provides benefit to your business, you may choose to then hire a permanent RD position. Another use of consultants is to fill gaps at your retail stores. A corporate dietitian may develop a diabetes education program or a weight loss program for new moms, for which consultants are hired to implement in stores in your various markets. Consultant RDs can be effective as media spokespeople, managing health messaging in your social media venues, or in helping you design programs that will be meaningful to your shopper. When hiring consultants for health and wellness programs, it’s essential to address exclusivity within your markets, especially if the consultant has a public facing role for your company.

Hiring Dietitians

Once you’ve determined the right dietitian structure and your starting point in creating a health and wellness team, you’re ready to find the right talent for the role. This section of the guide provides sample job descriptions, recommendations on defining titles and salary, guidance on where and how to find the right dietitian for a retail role, and tips for recruiting. Finally, discussion is providing on measuring the return on investment of retail dietitian programs.

Titles & Salary

Every company has a system and structure of titles and pay grades. As the retail RD role is still relatively new in the industry, it’s best to look internally to determine the right title and pay grade for your dietitians. Look at the roles and responsibilities of the position and how they compare to other functions within your company when determining the fit of the RD within your organization. Factor in that all retail RD roles have significant public visibility and will represent your company publicly to the media, community partners and with your shoppers. It’s essential to ensure the position, title, and salary allows you to hire the right talent to professionally represent your health and wellness brand and drive competitive advantage for your retailer.

Bonus structure is another area where you’ll want to align the retail RD compensation with equivalent roles within your organization. Dietitians do have impact on sales, and to this end, a bonus structure is important to include in the total package if this is also a benefit provided to merchandising, marketing and operations positions.

A variety of titles are currently used for dietitians employed by retailers. Titles common for corporate level RDs include Director (or Manager) of Health & Wellness, Corporate Dietitian, or Healthy Living Director (or Manager). Regional Dietitian is the title most often used for this role, but Community Dietitian is another option. For store dietitians, Retail Dietitian, Registered Dietitian, or Supermarket Dietitian are commonly used. Healthy Living Advisor or a title that includes the name of your health and wellness program are additional options.

Hiring Tips

While spelling autocorrect in word processing systems will spell it "dietician," these professionals prefer and always use "dietitian." By using this correct spelling, you showcase your knowledge of and respect for the profession.

Today, there are more than 70,000 registered dietitians in the United States. They work in a variety of settings including hospitals and clinics, government, education, foodservice, and business and industry. Positions in the retail industry are highly coveted, and as a retailer, it’s likely you’ll receive many applications for posted positions. The benefit is that you’ll have strong talent to choose from and will be able to identify candidates that are the best fit for your company and the retail RD role you’ve defined. The challenge is in filtering through the experience and skills of candidates to ensure you hire the right talent for the position. The following recruiting and hiring tips help you ensure candidates are a good fit for a position in the retail industry:

  • Dietitians with work experience at food manufacturers, sales and marketing companies, commodity or trade organizations will understand the business side of the industry, and can quickly provide company benefit by integration health promotion into the core business. Look for dietitians with this type of experience when recruiting. In job postings, indicate that food industry experience is required. During interviews, ask questions related to business such as budget responsibility, knowledge of marketing and advertising, and experience as a self-starter.
  • Most retail dietitian roles don’t include traditional work schedules, and the ability to work a flexible schedule that includes some travel and evening and weekend commitments comes with the role. Mentioning this schedule flexibility in job descriptions and during interviews ensures candidates are aware of this role requirement.
  • All RDs bring strong nutrition knowledge to the retail role, but personality is a major consideration when hiring. Because the retail RD role is highly visible with consumers and the media, and partnerships are one of the most impactful ways to broaden the retailer’s health and wellness brand, an outgoing and energetic personality tends to work best in this role. Review applications for indications that the candidate has the right personality fit for a retail role. For example, do they have videos on YouTube, have media experience, or frequently presented to live audiences? As a part of the interview process, you may consider asking candidates to do a short presentation for those involved in the hiring process.
  • As you build a team of RDs, it’s important to round out the skills and experience they bring to the positions. This positions you to have expertise in a variety of health areas that are important to your business and your customer. When hiring your first RD, it’s essential to have candidates that will be effective at integrating nutrition into the business. As you expand, you may want to look to RDs with specific experience in key areas. For example, Certified Diabetes Educators, certification as a personal chef, fitness certification and/or fluency in a second language bring expertise that will enhance shopper engagement and the breadth and depth of health and wellness programs offered.
  • Helping consumers make healthy choices at the point-of-purchase is a key part of the retail RD’s role; just as important are educating your shoppers on how to prepare foods in a healthful manner and to build nutritious meal plans. As they engage shoppers with food on many levels, it’s essential that retail dietitians have strong culinary skills. In job postings, be clear that strong culinary skills are a requirement of the role. During interviews, probe on the RDs experience in cooking and meal planning.
Measuring Return on Investment (ROI)

Retail margins are tight, and retail leadership is always looking at the bottom line. Because health and wellness is now a core business strategy, evaluating the return on investment of programs and services offered to shoppers is of high interest. There are a variety of ways in which the value of retail RD positions and healthy living services can be measured, including:

  • Increased customer loyalty. Many of the dietitian’s offerings are services, and customer loyalty is a way to measure the effectiveness of these programs. Surveys administered after store tours or community presentations assess how shoppers perceive the benefit. Register receipt surveys assess loyalty of customers who have utilized your dietitian services vs. those who haven’t. Consumer Affairs functions track shopper feedback on dietitian and all health and wellness offerings by your company.
  • Higher sales of better-for-you products. Dietitians promote healthier products through a variety of ways – in-store magazines and demos, store tours, media spots, shelf tags, e-newsletters to shoppers. Sales of these products are tracked to determine if there’s a sales lift while they’re being promoted by the dietitian.
  • Increased basket size and/or frequency of visits. If your company has a loyalty card program, it’s relatively easy to track the habits of customers who participate in health and wellness offerings. For example, loyalty cards are scanned for those attending a store tour or cooking or education class, and these shoppers tracked to see if their basket sizes or visits increase after the event. You can also identify better-for-you products as markers to assess if they are purchased more frequently after engagement with your dietitians. RDs often sell shopper solutions in the form of meals and meal plans, promoting the addition of other items to the cart. The impact of this solution service on basket size is traceable.
  • Fee for Service. Retail dietitians may offer store tours, demos, e-newsletters and other health services for free, but charge a fee for other offerings like one-on-one consults and cooking classes. This revenue contributes to the ROI of health and wellness initiatives.
  • Employee wellness. As mentioned, retail RDs are often involved with employee healthy living programs. If you conduct annual health screenings and assessments on your employee group, you can evaluate if those who have participated in health and wellness programs have improved biometric data and define the financial benefit of this is to your company.
  • Consumer impressions. Media is an effective way to reach your existing shoppers as well as potential new customers. Most media outlets can provide data on media impressions for spots run by the retail dietitian. A variety of methods exist in social media to track the number of consumers reached through tweets, Twitter parties and Facebook “likes.” The number of consumers reached through community outreach events, worksite presentations, and partnerships can be tracked. While the quality of these impressions isn’t always clear, these numbers are valuable in evaluating and communicating the benefit of healthy living programs.
  • Vendor Funded Programs. Dietitians frequently partner with national, regional and local food companies on programs that promote health and wellness and as a part of this, specific products of the food vendor. These programs can include articles and recipes published in store magazines and on company websites, in-store demos, inclusion of products in a store tour, or promotional space allowances. Retail dietitians typically have nutrition criteria established for products that can be promoted within these programs, to ensure they meet the company’s health and wellness guidelines. Funding of these programs can be included when measuring the return on investment.
Sample RD Structure

Sample Dietitian Team Structures

The following diagrams provide insight into potential RD team structures within your chain whether you are launching, expanding or revamping a dietitian program. The size of your retailer, the geographic scope, and demographics of your markets can all impact the structure you choose to implement. Additionally, you may start with one or a few RDs and fill out the structure as you prove the return on investment of healthy living programs for your shoppers.

Option #1

This option is ideal for retailers with the majority of their stores centered in market areas and a centralized corporate structure. The corporate dietitian role is at the headquarters location, leveraging the ability to partner with other internal departments such as marketing, communications, human resources, merchandising and owned brands. A regional dietitian is hired for each key market and provides store, community and shopper services across multiple stores. A benefit of this program is that nutrition services and health promotions can be developed at the corporate level but implemented by each regional RD, while at the same time services can be tailored to meet the unique needs of the local communities. For example, 60% of the RD’s work may be corporately driven, with 40% unique to the market. This structure works well for retailers piloting health and wellness programs as RDs can be added to regions over time as the benefit of healthy living programs for shoppers is realized.

Option #2

This option works well for large retailers fully committed to health and wellness as a differentiator for their company. The benefits of Option 1 are realized, with a corporate RD leading the dietitian team and directing nutrition services that meet shoppers’ needs as well as the company’s goals for health and wellness. The addition of store RDs, however, provides a more personal and direct relationship with the store’s customers and allows for an expanded in-store experience. In this model, the regional RDs may work in a managerial role over the store dietitians. Depending on the size of the retailer, the regional RD role may or may not exist. With smaller retailers, for example, store dietitians may report directly to a corporate RD. Alternatively, store RDs may report to the store director with a dotted line to a regional or corporate dietitian.

Option #3

The work of dietitians in the retail setting is definitely cross-functional. From marketing to communications to merchandising to store management to pharmacy, healthy living programs and initiatives are most effectively integrated into all these departments of a retail company. In this option, the focus is on store level dietitians, who provide direct services to shoppers and the local community and report through a department of the company with significant leadership of the company’s health and wellness strategy. This structure would also work for regional RDs in place of store RDs.

Sample Health and Wellness Organizations

Another key difference which can impact the retail RD role is their reporting hierarchy within your company. RDs who report through marketing or communications are often more involved in leveraging nutrition in existing retail programs such as website, circulars, advertising, etc. This reporting relationship may have the broadest opportunity to impact other departments of the store, and the merchandising and in-store promotion of healthier products. Store dietitians who report through the store director may have more autonomy in the services offered as well as engage in and lead more initiatives that directly relate to the demographic of their store’s market area. A variety of options for reporting structures are shown here as examples. They can be customized to align with your current organization.



Solution:

Hire regional RDs

Hire Regional Retail Dietitian

Regional Role

If your retailer has clearly defined markets with groupings of stores in a demographic area, a regional dietitian may be ideal. This RD focuses on programs and events that can be implemented across the market area and multiple stores. He/she focuses on larger community events that reach a broad audience base in the defined market and works with media in these markets to reach all your shoppers and potential customers. The regional RD may hire and manage a team of in-store dietitians who are providing direct services to consumers and employees, and when hiring at this level, it’s important to assess these managerial skills. The regional RD may offer services to shoppers directly in the store and be involved in store communications but this is at a much more limited level than the store RD. The regional retail RD has a moderate level of direct consumer interaction.

Regional Information & Resources

Regional RD Retail Dietitian Job Description

As discussed, retail RDs can take on a variety of roles and responsibilities. It's essential as you develop job descriptions to narrow these responsibilities to those that will most effectively meet the needs of your shoppers and markets, and align with your corporate goals for healthy living. Below is a sample job description. It is intentionally comprehensive, with the idea that you can then eliminate those responsibilities outside of scope for the role within your company.

A Word About Consultants

Consultant dietitians are another option to consider when looking for nutrition expertise as a part of health and wellness initiatives. Consultants can be hired on a limited time basis for a special project or to provide services for a specific number of hours each week. If you’re piloting health and wellness programs in your retail chain, a consultant can be an effective and cost-efficient resource. Once you confirm that a health and wellness program provides benefit to your business, you may choose to then hire a permanent RD position. Another use of consultants is to fill gaps at your retail stores. A corporate dietitian may develop a diabetes education program or a weight loss program for new moms, for which consultants are hired to implement in stores in your various markets. Consultant RDs can be effective as media spokespeople, managing health messaging in your social media venues, or in helping you design programs that will be meaningful to your shopper. When hiring consultants for health and wellness programs, it’s essential to address exclusivity within your markets, especially if the consultant has a public facing role for your company.

Hiring Dietitians

Once you’ve determined the right dietitian structure and your starting point in creating a health and wellness team, you’re ready to find the right talent for the role. This section of the guide provides sample job descriptions, recommendations on defining titles and salary, guidance on where and how to find the right dietitian for a retail role, and tips for recruiting. Finally, discussion is providing on measuring the return on investment of retail dietitian programs.

Titles & Salary

Every company has a system and structure of titles and pay grades. As the retail RD role is still relatively new in the industry, it’s best to look internally to determine the right title and pay grade for your dietitians. Look at the roles and responsibilities of the position and how they compare to other functions within your company when determining the fit of the RD within your organization. Factor in that all retail RD roles have significant public visibility and will represent your company publicly to the media, community partners and with your shoppers. It’s essential to ensure the position, title, and salary allows you to hire the right talent to professionally represent your health and wellness brand and drive competitive advantage for your retailer.

Bonus structure is another area where you’ll want to align the retail RD compensation with equivalent roles within your organization. Dietitians do have impact on sales, and to this end, a bonus structure is important to include in the total package if this is also a benefit provided to merchandising, marketing and operations positions.

A variety of titles are currently used for dietitians employed by retailers. Titles common for corporate level RDs include Director (or Manager) of Health & Wellness, Corporate Dietitian, or Healthy Living Director (or Manager). Regional Dietitian is the title most often used for this role, but Community Dietitian is another option. For store dietitians, Retail Dietitian, Registered Dietitian, or Supermarket Dietitian are commonly used. Healthy Living Advisor or a title that includes the name of your health and wellness program are additional options.

Hiring Tips

While spelling autocorrect in word processing systems will spell it "dietician," these professionals prefer and always use "dietitian." By using this correct spelling, you showcase your knowledge of and respect for the profession.

Today, there are more than 70,000 registered dietitians in the United States. They work in a variety of settings including hospitals and clinics, government, education, foodservice, and business and industry. Positions in the retail industry are highly coveted, and as a retailer, it’s likely you’ll receive many applications for posted positions. The benefit is that you’ll have strong talent to choose from and will be able to identify candidates that are the best fit for your company and the retail RD role you’ve defined. The challenge is in filtering through the experience and skills of candidates to ensure you hire the right talent for the position. The following recruiting and hiring tips help you ensure candidates are a good fit for a position in the retail industry:

  • Dietitians with work experience at food manufacturers, sales and marketing companies, commodity or trade organizations will understand the business side of the industry, and can quickly provide company benefit by integration health promotion into the core business. Look for dietitians with this type of experience when recruiting. In job postings, indicate that food industry experience is required. During interviews, ask questions related to business such as budget responsibility, knowledge of marketing and advertising, and experience as a self-starter.
  • Most retail dietitian roles don’t include traditional work schedules, and the ability to work a flexible schedule that includes some travel and evening and weekend commitments comes with the role. Mentioning this schedule flexibility in job descriptions and during interviews ensures candidates are aware of this role requirement.
  • All RDs bring strong nutrition knowledge to the retail role, but personality is a major consideration when hiring. Because the retail RD role is highly visible with consumers and the media, and partnerships are one of the most impactful ways to broaden the retailer’s health and wellness brand, an outgoing and energetic personality tends to work best in this role. Review applications for indications that the candidate has the right personality fit for a retail role. For example, do they have videos on YouTube, have media experience, or frequently presented to live audiences? As a part of the interview process, you may consider asking candidates to do a short presentation for those involved in the hiring process.
  • As you build a team of RDs, it’s important to round out the skills and experience they bring to the positions. This positions you to have expertise in a variety of health areas that are important to your business and your customer. When hiring your first RD, it’s essential to have candidates that will be effective at integrating nutrition into the business. As you expand, you may want to look to RDs with specific experience in key areas. For example, Certified Diabetes Educators, certification as a personal chef, fitness certification and/or fluency in a second language bring expertise that will enhance shopper engagement and the breadth and depth of health and wellness programs offered.
  • Helping consumers make healthy choices at the point-of-purchase is a key part of the retail RD’s role; just as important are educating your shoppers on how to prepare foods in a healthful manner and to build nutritious meal plans. As they engage shoppers with food on many levels, it’s essential that retail dietitians have strong culinary skills. In job postings, be clear that strong culinary skills are a requirement of the role. During interviews, probe on the RDs experience in cooking and meal planning.
Measuring Return on Investment (ROI)

Retail margins are tight, and retail leadership is always looking at the bottom line. Because health and wellness is now a core business strategy, evaluating the return on investment of programs and services offered to shoppers is of high interest. There are a variety of ways in which the value of retail RD positions and healthy living services can be measured, including:

  • Increased customer loyalty. Many of the dietitian’s offerings are services, and customer loyalty is a way to measure the effectiveness of these programs. Surveys administered after store tours or community presentations assess how shoppers perceive the benefit. Register receipt surveys assess loyalty of customers who have utilized your dietitian services vs. those who haven’t. Consumer Affairs functions track shopper feedback on dietitian and all health and wellness offerings by your company.
  • Higher sales of better-for-you products. Dietitians promote healthier products through a variety of ways – in-store magazines and demos, store tours, media spots, shelf tags, e-newsletters to shoppers. Sales of these products are tracked to determine if there’s a sales lift while they’re being promoted by the dietitian.
  • Increased basket size and/or frequency of visits. If your company has a loyalty card program, it’s relatively easy to track the habits of customers who participate in health and wellness offerings. For example, loyalty cards are scanned for those attending a store tour or cooking or education class, and these shoppers tracked to see if their basket sizes or visits increase after the event. You can also identify better-for-you products as markers to assess if they are purchased more frequently after engagement with your dietitians. RDs often sell shopper solutions in the form of meals and meal plans, promoting the addition of other items to the cart. The impact of this solution service on basket size is traceable.
  • Fee for Service. Retail dietitians may offer store tours, demos, e-newsletters and other health services for free, but charge a fee for other offerings like one-on-one consults and cooking classes. This revenue contributes to the ROI of health and wellness initiatives.
  • Employee wellness. As mentioned, retail RDs are often involved with employee healthy living programs. If you conduct annual health screenings and assessments on your employee group, you can evaluate if those who have participated in health and wellness programs have improved biometric data and define the financial benefit of this is to your company.
  • Consumer impressions. Media is an effective way to reach your existing shoppers as well as potential new customers. Most media outlets can provide data on media impressions for spots run by the retail dietitian. A variety of methods exist in social media to track the number of consumers reached through tweets, Twitter parties and Facebook “likes.” The number of consumers reached through community outreach events, worksite presentations, and partnerships can be tracked. While the quality of these impressions isn’t always clear, these numbers are valuable in evaluating and communicating the benefit of healthy living programs.
  • Vendor Funded Programs. Dietitians frequently partner with national, regional and local food companies on programs that promote health and wellness and as a part of this, specific products of the food vendor. These programs can include articles and recipes published in store magazines and on company websites, in-store demos, inclusion of products in a store tour, or promotional space allowances. Retail dietitians typically have nutrition criteria established for products that can be promoted within these programs, to ensure they meet the company’s health and wellness guidelines. Funding of these programs can be included when measuring the return on investment.
Sample RD Structure

Sample Dietitian Team Structures

The following diagrams provide insight into potential RD team structures within your chain whether you are launching, expanding or revamping a dietitian program. The size of your retailer, the geographic scope, and demographics of your markets can all impact the structure you choose to implement. Additionally, you may start with one or a few RDs and fill out the structure as you prove the return on investment of healthy living programs for your shoppers.

Option #1

This option is ideal for retailers with the majority of their stores centered in market areas and a centralized corporate structure. The corporate dietitian role is at the headquarters location, leveraging the ability to partner with other internal departments such as marketing, communications, human resources, merchandising and owned brands. A regional dietitian is hired for each key market and provides store, community and shopper services across multiple stores. A benefit of this program is that nutrition services and health promotions can be developed at the corporate level but implemented by each regional RD, while at the same time services can be tailored to meet the unique needs of the local communities. For example, 60% of the RD’s work may be corporately driven, with 40% unique to the market. This structure works well for retailers piloting health and wellness programs as RDs can be added to regions over time as the benefit of healthy living programs for shoppers is realized.

Option #2

This option works well for large retailers fully committed to health and wellness as a differentiator for their company. The benefits of Option 1 are realized, with a corporate RD leading the dietitian team and directing nutrition services that meet shoppers’ needs as well as the company’s goals for health and wellness. The addition of store RDs, however, provides a more personal and direct relationship with the store’s customers and allows for an expanded in-store experience. In this model, the regional RDs may work in a managerial role over the store dietitians. Depending on the size of the retailer, the regional RD role may or may not exist. With smaller retailers, for example, store dietitians may report directly to a corporate RD. Alternatively, store RDs may report to the store director with a dotted line to a regional or corporate dietitian.

Option #3

The work of dietitians in the retail setting is definitely cross-functional. From marketing to communications to merchandising to store management to pharmacy, healthy living programs and initiatives are most effectively integrated into all these departments of a retail company. In this option, the focus is on store level dietitians, who provide direct services to shoppers and the local community and report through a department of the company with significant leadership of the company’s health and wellness strategy. This structure would also work for regional RDs in place of store RDs.

Sample Health and Wellness Organizations

Another key difference which can impact the retail RD role is their reporting hierarchy within your company. RDs who report through marketing or communications are often more involved in leveraging nutrition in existing retail programs such as website, circulars, advertising, etc. This reporting relationship may have the broadest opportunity to impact other departments of the store, and the merchandising and in-store promotion of healthier products. Store dietitians who report through the store director may have more autonomy in the services offered as well as engage in and lead more initiatives that directly relate to the demographic of their store’s market area. A variety of options for reporting structures are shown here as examples. They can be customized to align with your current organization.



Solution:

Hire store RDs. Hire regional RDs.

Hire Store Retail Dietitian. Hire Regional Retail Dietitian.

Store Role

This retail dietitian has the most direct contact with individual consumers and/or employees. They are likely to offer store tours and may hold hours where they are available for shopper questions in the aisles of the store. They write shopper newsletters, offer presentation to local employers and community groups, partner with health organizations, and are active with local media. This RD is the most likely to do one-on-one consults, helping consumers manage specific health conditions. Store dietitians offer the most customized services, meeting the direct needs of their store's marketplace.

An emerging trend in the retail RD role is providing medical nutrition therapy to shoppers managing a specific health condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, food allergies, or obesity. MNT includes a comprehensive nutrition assessment and understanding of the diagnosis, planning and implementing a nutrition intervention, and monitoring the individual’s progress over future visits. MNT is reimbursable through some insurance providers. If this is a direction your retailer would like to explore, it’s essential to engage your legal teams and to hire dietitians with this direct experience as there are many regulatory and legal aspects of this service which must be considered.

FAQ: What are some of the key considerations in offering Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) as a dietitian service in my stores?

As mentioned, offering MNT is an emerging trend in the role of retail dietitians. This can be a valuable service as it has the potential to create a very loyal shopper for years to come. At the same time there are a variety of legal and regulatory considerations in offering this service in your stores. A fee structure needs to be developed and privacy rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) followed, which may include physical changes to your store layout and space. RDs will need HIPPA training. Some conditions require a physician referral to the RD for MNT. For insurance reimbursement for MNT, contracts must be negotiated with each insurance carrier in your area. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides training on MNT and insurance reimbursement and can be a valuable resource in addition to your internal regulatory and legal teams when building MNT service offerings and structure.

Regional Role

If your retailer has clearly defined markets with groupings of stores in a demographic area, a regional dietitian may be ideal. This RD focuses on programs and events that can be implemented across the market area and multiple stores. He/she focuses on larger community events that reach a broad audience base in the defined market and works with media in these markets to reach all your shoppers and potential customers. The regional RD may hire and manage a team of in-store dietitians who are providing direct services to consumers and employees, and when hiring at this level, it’s important to assess these managerial skills. The regional RD may offer services to shoppers directly in the store and be involved in store communications but this is at a much more limited level than the store RD. The regional retail RD has a moderate level of direct consumer interaction.

Store & Regional RD Information & Resources

Store & Regional Retail Dietitian Job Descriptions

As discussed, retail RDs can take on a variety of roles and responsibilities. It's essential as you develop job descriptions to narrow these responsibilities to those that will most effectively meet the needs of your shoppers and markets, and align with your corporate goals for healthy living. Below are sample job descriptions. They are intentionally comprehensive, with the idea that you can then eliminate those responsibilities outside of scope for the role within your company.

A Word About Consultants

Consultant dietitians are another option to consider when looking for nutrition expertise as a part of health and wellness initiatives. Consultants can be hired on a limited time basis for a special project or to provide services for a specific number of hours each week. If you’re piloting health and wellness programs in your retail chain, a consultant can be an effective and cost-efficient resource. Once you confirm that a health and wellness program provides benefit to your business, you may choose to then hire a permanent RD position. Another use of consultants is to fill gaps at your retail stores. A corporate dietitian may develop a diabetes education program or a weight loss program for new moms, for which consultants are hired to implement in stores in your various markets. Consultant RDs can be effective as media spokespeople, managing health messaging in your social media venues, or in helping you design programs that will be meaningful to your shopper. When hiring consultants for health and wellness programs, it’s essential to address exclusivity within your markets, especially if the consultant has a public facing role for your company.

Hiring Dietitians

Once you’ve determined the right dietitian structure and your starting point in creating a health and wellness team, you’re ready to find the right talent for the role. This section of the guide provides sample job descriptions, recommendations on defining titles and salary, guidance on where and how to find the right dietitian for a retail role, and tips for recruiting. Finally, discussion is providing on measuring the return on investment of retail dietitian programs.

Titles & Salary

Every company has a system and structure of titles and pay grades. As the retail RD role is still relatively new in the industry, it’s best to look internally to determine the right title and pay grade for your dietitians. Look at the roles and responsibilities of the position and how they compare to other functions within your company when determining the fit of the RD within your organization. Factor in that all retail RD roles have significant public visibility and will represent your company publicly to the media, community partners and with your shoppers. It’s essential to ensure the position, title, and salary allows you to hire the right talent to professionally represent your health and wellness brand and drive competitive advantage for your retailer.

Bonus structure is another area where you’ll want to align the retail RD compensation with equivalent roles within your organization. Dietitians do have impact on sales, and to this end, a bonus structure is important to include in the total package if this is also a benefit provided to merchandising, marketing and operations positions.

A variety of titles are currently used for dietitians employed by retailers. Titles common for corporate level RDs include Director (or Manager) of Health & Wellness, Corporate Dietitian, or Healthy Living Director (or Manager). Regional Dietitian is the title most often used for this role, but Community Dietitian is another option. For store dietitians, Retail Dietitian, Registered Dietitian, or Supermarket Dietitian are commonly used. Healthy Living Advisor or a title that includes the name of your health and wellness program are additional options.

Hiring Tips

While spelling autocorrect in word processing systems will spell it "dietician," these professionals prefer and always use "dietitian." By using this correct spelling, you showcase your knowledge of and respect for the profession.

Today, there are more than 70,000 registered dietitians in the United States. They work in a variety of settings including hospitals and clinics, government, education, foodservice, and business and industry. Positions in the retail industry are highly coveted, and as a retailer, it’s likely you’ll receive many applications for posted positions. The benefit is that you’ll have strong talent to choose from and will be able to identify candidates that are the best fit for your company and the retail RD role you’ve defined. The challenge is in filtering through the experience and skills of candidates to ensure you hire the right talent for the position. The following recruiting and hiring tips help you ensure candidates are a good fit for a position in the retail industry:

  • Dietitians with work experience at food manufacturers, sales and marketing companies, commodity or trade organizations will understand the business side of the industry, and can quickly provide company benefit by integration health promotion into the core business. Look for dietitians with this type of experience when recruiting. In job postings, indicate that food industry experience is required. During interviews, ask questions related to business such as budget responsibility, knowledge of marketing and advertising, and experience as a self-starter.
  • Most retail dietitian roles don’t include traditional work schedules, and the ability to work a flexible schedule that includes some travel and evening and weekend commitments comes with the role. Mentioning this schedule flexibility in job descriptions and during interviews ensures candidates are aware of this role requirement.
  • All RDs bring strong nutrition knowledge to the retail role, but personality is a major consideration when hiring. Because the retail RD role is highly visible with consumers and the media, and partnerships are one of the most impactful ways to broaden the retailer’s health and wellness brand, an outgoing and energetic personality tends to work best in this role. Review applications for indications that the candidate has the right personality fit for a retail role. For example, do they have videos on YouTube, have media experience, or frequently presented to live audiences? As a part of the interview process, you may consider asking candidates to do a short presentation for those involved in the hiring process.
  • As you build a team of RDs, it’s important to round out the skills and experience they bring to the positions. This positions you to have expertise in a variety of health areas that are important to your business and your customer. When hiring your first RD, it’s essential to have candidates that will be effective at integrating nutrition into the business. As you expand, you may want to look to RDs with specific experience in key areas. For example, Certified Diabetes Educators, certification as a personal chef, fitness certification and/or fluency in a second language bring expertise that will enhance shopper engagement and the breadth and depth of health and wellness programs offered.
  • Helping consumers make healthy choices at the point-of-purchase is a key part of the retail RD’s role; just as important are educating your shoppers on how to prepare foods in a healthful manner and to build nutritious meal plans. As they engage shoppers with food on many levels, it’s essential that retail dietitians have strong culinary skills. In job postings, be clear that strong culinary skills are a requirement of the role. During interviews, probe on the RDs experience in cooking and meal planning.
Measuring Return on Investment (ROI)

Retail margins are tight, and retail leadership is always looking at the bottom line. Because health and wellness is now a core business strategy, evaluating the return on investment of programs and services offered to shoppers is of high interest. There are a variety of ways in which the value of retail RD positions and healthy living services can be measured, including:

  • Increased customer loyalty. Many of the dietitian’s offerings are services, and customer loyalty is a way to measure the effectiveness of these programs. Surveys administered after store tours or community presentations assess how shoppers perceive the benefit. Register receipt surveys assess loyalty of customers who have utilized your dietitian services vs. those who haven’t. Consumer Affairs functions track shopper feedback on dietitian and all health and wellness offerings by your company.
  • Higher sales of better-for-you products. Dietitians promote healthier products through a variety of ways – in-store magazines and demos, store tours, media spots, shelf tags, e-newsletters to shoppers. Sales of these products are tracked to determine if there’s a sales lift while they’re being promoted by the dietitian.
  • Increased basket size and/or frequency of visits. If your company has a loyalty card program, it’s relatively easy to track the habits of customers who participate in health and wellness offerings. For example, loyalty cards are scanned for those attending a store tour or cooking or education class, and these shoppers tracked to see if their basket sizes or visits increase after the event. You can also identify better-for-you products as markers to assess if they are purchased more frequently after engagement with your dietitians. RDs often sell shopper solutions in the form of meals and meal plans, promoting the addition of other items to the cart. The impact of this solution service on basket size is traceable.
  • Fee for Service. Retail dietitians may offer store tours, demos, e-newsletters and other health services for free, but charge a fee for other offerings like one-on-one consults and cooking classes. This revenue contributes to the ROI of health and wellness initiatives.
  • Employee wellness. As mentioned, retail RDs are often involved with employee healthy living programs. If you conduct annual health screenings and assessments on your employee group, you can evaluate if those who have participated in health and wellness programs have improved biometric data and define the financial benefit of this is to your company.
  • Consumer impressions. Media is an effective way to reach your existing shoppers as well as potential new customers. Most media outlets can provide data on media impressions for spots run by the retail dietitian. A variety of methods exist in social media to track the number of consumers reached through tweets, Twitter parties and Facebook “likes.” The number of consumers reached through community outreach events, worksite presentations, and partnerships can be tracked. While the quality of these impressions isn’t always clear, these numbers are valuable in evaluating and communicating the benefit of healthy living programs.
  • Vendor Funded Programs. Dietitians frequently partner with national, regional and local food companies on programs that promote health and wellness and as a part of this, specific products of the food vendor. These programs can include articles and recipes published in store magazines and on company websites, in-store demos, inclusion of products in a store tour, or promotional space allowances. Retail dietitians typically have nutrition criteria established for products that can be promoted within these programs, to ensure they meet the company’s health and wellness guidelines. Funding of these programs can be included when measuring the return on investment.
Sample RD Structure

Sample Dietitian Team Structures

The following diagrams provide insight into potential RD team structures within your chain whether you are launching, expanding or revamping a dietitian program. The size of your retailer, the geographic scope, and demographics of your markets can all impact the structure you choose to implement. Additionally, you may start with one or a few RDs and fill out the structure as you prove the return on investment of healthy living programs for your shoppers.

Option #1

This option is ideal for retailers with the majority of their stores centered in market areas and a centralized corporate structure. The corporate dietitian role is at the headquarters location, leveraging the ability to partner with other internal departments such as marketing, communications, human resources, merchandising and owned brands. A regional dietitian is hired for each key market and provides store, community and shopper services across multiple stores. A benefit of this program is that nutrition services and health promotions can be developed at the corporate level but implemented by each regional RD, while at the same time services can be tailored to meet the unique needs of the local communities. For example, 60% of the RD’s work may be corporately driven, with 40% unique to the market. This structure works well for retailers piloting health and wellness programs as RDs can be added to regions over time as the benefit of healthy living programs for shoppers is realized.

Option #2

This option works well for large retailers fully committed to health and wellness as a differentiator for their company. The benefits of Option 1 are realized, with a corporate RD leading the dietitian team and directing nutrition services that meet shoppers’ needs as well as the company’s goals for health and wellness. The addition of store RDs, however, provides a more personal and direct relationship with the store’s customers and allows for an expanded in-store experience. In this model, the regional RDs may work in a managerial role over the store dietitians. Depending on the size of the retailer, the regional RD role may or may not exist. With smaller retailers, for example, store dietitians may report directly to a corporate RD. Alternatively, store RDs may report to the store director with a dotted line to a regional or corporate dietitian.

Option #3

The work of dietitians in the retail setting is definitely cross-functional. From marketing to communications to merchandising to store management to pharmacy, healthy living programs and initiatives are most effectively integrated into all these departments of a retail company. In this option, the focus is on store level dietitians, who provide direct services to shoppers and the local community and report through a department of the company with significant leadership of the company’s health and wellness strategy. This structure would also work for regional RDs in place of store RDs.

Sample Health and Wellness Organizations

Another key difference which can impact the retail RD role is their reporting hierarchy within your company. RDs who report through marketing or communications are often more involved in leveraging nutrition in existing retail programs such as website, circulars, advertising, etc. This reporting relationship may have the broadest opportunity to impact other departments of the store, and the merchandising and in-store promotion of healthier products. Store dietitians who report through the store director may have more autonomy in the services offered as well as engage in and lead more initiatives that directly relate to the demographic of their store’s market area. A variety of options for reporting structures are shown here as examples. They can be customized to align with your current organization.



Solution:

Hire regional RDs. Hire corporate RDs.

Hire Regional Retail Dietitian. Hire Corporate Retail Dietitian.

Regional Role

If your retailer has clearly defined markets with groupings of stores in a demographic area, a regional dietitian may be ideal. This RD focuses on programs and events that can be implemented across the market area and multiple stores. He/she focuses on larger community events that reach a broad audience base in the defined market and works with media in these markets to reach all your shoppers and potential customers. The regional RD may hire and manage a team of in-store dietitians who are providing direct services to consumers and employees, and when hiring at this level, it’s important to assess these managerial skills. The regional RD may offer services to shoppers directly in the store and be involved in store communications but this is at a much more limited level than the store RD. The regional retail RD has a moderate level of direct consumer interaction.

Corporate Role

Dietitians working in a corporate role develop strategic plans, lead health and wellness initiatives, and can also manage regional and/or store dietitians. They have greater access to company leadership, communications and marketing teams, and category buyers and managers. If a RD is hired at the corporate level, consumer education is more focused on traditional and social media, and promotional efforts and programs which can be implemented through other functions at the store level. This dietitian is a valuable asset to merchandising and marketing teams in work on healthy living promotions with food manufacturers and other vendors. The corporate retail dietitian has limited direct contact with consumers compared to retail dietitians at a regional or in-store level.

  • Owned Brands. A core component of retail healthy living programs is offering private label products with health attributes (i.e. low sodium, good source of fiber, organic). A dietitian at the corporate level is available to provide nutrition guidance to the owned brands team, suggesting nutrition guardrails for products, building the case for healthier brands, and ensuring new product development aligns with current nutrition trends. Some dietitians also have experience in regulatory affairs, and can manage the labeling and regulatory affairs function for private label.
  • Employee Wellness. As retailers continue to manage health care and insurance costs for employees, they are expanding their health and wellness efforts for team members. RDs’ roles may be partially or totally focused on employee wellness. Employees are also viewed as shoppers, and for this reason, are often reached with consumer education along with other store customers. As employees become more educated on healthy living principles and the offerings of your retail chain, they become health advocates in every aisle of the store, able to answer basic consumer questions as well as direct shoppers to the RD services and programs.
  • Consumer Affairs. As technology evolves, consumer-retailer engagement has expanded from letters in the mail and 800-line calls to Twitter comments, web posts and Facebook questions. Corporate retail dietitians can develop position statements on key issues for consumer response, respond to nutrition inquiries, and develop programs and services based on frequent consumer interests through these consumer affairs mediums.

Regional & Corporate RD Information & Resources

Regional & Corporate Retail Dietitian Job Descriptions

As discussed, retail RDs can take on a variety of roles and responsibilities. It's essential as you develop job descriptions to narrow these responsibilities to those that will most effectively meet the needs of your shoppers and markets, and align with your corporate goals for healthy living. Below are sample job descriptions. They are intentionally comprehensive, with the idea that you can then eliminate those responsibilities outside of scope for the role within your company.

A Word About Consultants

Consultant dietitians are another option to consider when looking for nutrition expertise as a part of health and wellness initiatives. Consultants can be hired on a limited time basis for a special project or to provide services for a specific number of hours each week. If you’re piloting health and wellness programs in your retail chain, a consultant can be an effective and cost-efficient resource. Once you confirm that a health and wellness program provides benefit to your business, you may choose to then hire a permanent RD position. Another use of consultants is to fill gaps at your retail stores. A corporate dietitian may develop a diabetes education program or a weight loss program for new moms, for which consultants are hired to implement in stores in your various markets. Consultant RDs can be effective as media spokespeople, managing health messaging in your social media venues, or in helping you design programs that will be meaningful to your shopper. When hiring consultants for health and wellness programs, it’s essential to address exclusivity within your markets, especially if the consultant has a public facing role for your company.

Hiring Dietitians

Once you’ve determined the right dietitian structure and your starting point in creating a health and wellness team, you’re ready to find the right talent for the role. This section of the guide provides sample job descriptions, recommendations on defining titles and salary, guidance on where and how to find the right dietitian for a retail role, and tips for recruiting. Finally, discussion is providing on measuring the return on investment of retail dietitian programs.

Titles & Salary

Every company has a system and structure of titles and pay grades. As the retail RD role is still relatively new in the industry, it’s best to look internally to determine the right title and pay grade for your dietitians. Look at the roles and responsibilities of the position and how they compare to other functions within your company when determining the fit of the RD within your organization. Factor in that all retail RD roles have significant public visibility and will represent your company publicly to the media, community partners and with your shoppers. It’s essential to ensure the position, title, and salary allows you to hire the right talent to professionally represent your health and wellness brand and drive competitive advantage for your retailer.

Bonus structure is another area where you’ll want to align the retail RD compensation with equivalent roles within your organization. Dietitians do have impact on sales, and to this end, a bonus structure is important to include in the total package if this is also a benefit provided to merchandising, marketing and operations positions.

A variety of titles are currently used for dietitians employed by retailers. Titles common for corporate level RDs include Director (or Manager) of Health & Wellness, Corporate Dietitian, or Healthy Living Director (or Manager). Regional Dietitian is the title most often used for this role, but Community Dietitian is another option. For store dietitians, Retail Dietitian, Registered Dietitian, or Supermarket Dietitian are commonly used. Healthy Living Advisor or a title that includes the name of your health and wellness program are additional options.

Hiring Tips

While spelling autocorrect in word processing systems will spell it "dietician," these professionals prefer and always use "dietitian." By using this correct spelling, you showcase your knowledge of and respect for the profession.

Today, there are more than 70,000 registered dietitians in the United States. They work in a variety of settings including hospitals and clinics, government, education, foodservice, and business and industry. Positions in the retail industry are highly coveted, and as a retailer, it’s likely you’ll receive many applications for posted positions. The benefit is that you’ll have strong talent to choose from and will be able to identify candidates that are the best fit for your company and the retail RD role you’ve defined. The challenge is in filtering through the experience and skills of candidates to ensure you hire the right talent for the position. The following recruiting and hiring tips help you ensure candidates are a good fit for a position in the retail industry:

  • Dietitians with work experience at food manufacturers, sales and marketing companies, commodity or trade organizations will understand the business side of the industry, and can quickly provide company benefit by integration health promotion into the core business. Look for dietitians with this type of experience when recruiting. In job postings, indicate that food industry experience is required. During interviews, ask questions related to business such as budget responsibility, knowledge of marketing and advertising, and experience as a self-starter.
  • Most retail dietitian roles don’t include traditional work schedules, and the ability to work a flexible schedule that includes some travel and evening and weekend commitments comes with the role. Mentioning this schedule flexibility in job descriptions and during interviews ensures candidates are aware of this role requirement.
  • All RDs bring strong nutrition knowledge to the retail role, but personality is a major consideration when hiring. Because the retail RD role is highly visible with consumers and the media, and partnerships are one of the most impactful ways to broaden the retailer’s health and wellness brand, an outgoing and energetic personality tends to work best in this role. Review applications for indications that the candidate has the right personality fit for a retail role. For example, do they have videos on YouTube, have media experience, or frequently presented to live audiences? As a part of the interview process, you may consider asking candidates to do a short presentation for those involved in the hiring process.
  • As you build a team of RDs, it’s important to round out the skills and experience they bring to the positions. This positions you to have expertise in a variety of health areas that are important to your business and your customer. When hiring your first RD, it’s essential to have candidates that will be effective at integrating nutrition into the business. As you expand, you may want to look to RDs with specific experience in key areas. For example, Certified Diabetes Educators, certification as a personal chef, fitness certification and/or fluency in a second language bring expertise that will enhance shopper engagement and the breadth and depth of health and wellness programs offered.
  • Helping consumers make healthy choices at the point-of-purchase is a key part of the retail RD’s role; just as important are educating your shoppers on how to prepare foods in a healthful manner and to build nutritious meal plans. As they engage shoppers with food on many levels, it’s essential that retail dietitians have strong culinary skills. In job postings, be clear that strong culinary skills are a requirement of the role. During interviews, probe on the RDs experience in cooking and meal planning.
Measuring Return on Investment (ROI)

Retail margins are tight, and retail leadership is always looking at the bottom line. Because health and wellness is now a core business strategy, evaluating the return on investment of programs and services offered to shoppers is of high interest. There are a variety of ways in which the value of retail RD positions and healthy living services can be measured, including:

  • Increased customer loyalty. Many of the dietitian’s offerings are services, and customer loyalty is a way to measure the effectiveness of these programs. Surveys administered after store tours or community presentations assess how shoppers perceive the benefit. Register receipt surveys assess loyalty of customers who have utilized your dietitian services vs. those who haven’t. Consumer Affairs functions track shopper feedback on dietitian and all health and wellness offerings by your company.
  • Higher sales of better-for-you products. Dietitians promote healthier products through a variety of ways – in-store magazines and demos, store tours, media spots, shelf tags, e-newsletters to shoppers. Sales of these products are tracked to determine if there’s a sales lift while they’re being promoted by the dietitian.
  • Increased basket size and/or frequency of visits. If your company has a loyalty card program, it’s relatively easy to track the habits of customers who participate in health and wellness offerings. For example, loyalty cards are scanned for those attending a store tour or cooking or education class, and these shoppers tracked to see if their basket sizes or visits increase after the event. You can also identify better-for-you products as markers to assess if they are purchased more frequently after engagement with your dietitians. RDs often sell shopper solutions in the form of meals and meal plans, promoting the addition of other items to the cart. The impact of this solution service on basket size is traceable.
  • Fee for Service. Retail dietitians may offer store tours, demos, e-newsletters and other health services for free, but charge a fee for other offerings like one-on-one consults and cooking classes. This revenue contributes to the ROI of health and wellness initiatives.
  • Employee wellness. As mentioned, retail RDs are often involved with employee healthy living programs. If you conduct annual health screenings and assessments on your employee group, you can evaluate if those who have participated in health and wellness programs have improved biometric data and define the financial benefit of this is to your company.
  • Consumer impressions. Media is an effective way to reach your existing shoppers as well as potential new customers. Most media outlets can provide data on media impressions for spots run by the retail dietitian. A variety of methods exist in social media to track the number of consumers reached through tweets, Twitter parties and Facebook “likes.” The number of consumers reached through community outreach events, worksite presentations, and partnerships can be tracked. While the quality of these impressions isn’t always clear, these numbers are valuable in evaluating and communicating the benefit of healthy living programs.
  • Vendor Funded Programs. Dietitians frequently partner with national, regional and local food companies on programs that promote health and wellness and as a part of this, specific products of the food vendor. These programs can include articles and recipes published in store magazines and on company websites, in-store demos, inclusion of products in a store tour, or promotional space allowances. Retail dietitians typically have nutrition criteria established for products that can be promoted within these programs, to ensure they meet the company’s health and wellness guidelines. Funding of these programs can be included when measuring the return on investment.
Sample RD Structure

Sample Dietitian Team Structures

The following diagrams provide insight into potential RD team structures within your chain whether you are launching, expanding or revamping a dietitian program. The size of your retailer, the geographic scope, and demographics of your markets can all impact the structure you choose to implement. Additionally, you may start with one or a few RDs and fill out the structure as you prove the return on investment of healthy living programs for your shoppers.

Option #1

This option is ideal for retailers with the majority of their stores centered in market areas and a centralized corporate structure. The corporate dietitian role is at the headquarters location, leveraging the ability to partner with other internal departments such as marketing, communications, human resources, merchandising and owned brands. A regional dietitian is hired for each key market and provides store, community and shopper services across multiple stores. A benefit of this program is that nutrition services and health promotions can be developed at the corporate level but implemented by each regional RD, while at the same time services can be tailored to meet the unique needs of the local communities. For example, 60% of the RD’s work may be corporately driven, with 40% unique to the market. This structure works well for retailers piloting health and wellness programs as RDs can be added to regions over time as the benefit of healthy living programs for shoppers is realized.

Option #2

This option works well for large retailers fully committed to health and wellness as a differentiator for their company. The benefits of Option 1 are realized, with a corporate RD leading the dietitian team and directing nutrition services that meet shoppers’ needs as well as the company’s goals for health and wellness. The addition of store RDs, however, provides a more personal and direct relationship with the store’s customers and allows for an expanded in-store experience. In this model, the regional RDs may work in a managerial role over the store dietitians. Depending on the size of the retailer, the regional RD role may or may not exist. With smaller retailers, for example, store dietitians may report directly to a corporate RD. Alternatively, store RDs may report to the store director with a dotted line to a regional or corporate dietitian.

Option #3

The work of dietitians in the retail setting is definitely cross-functional. From marketing to communications to merchandising to store management to pharmacy, healthy living programs and initiatives are most effectively integrated into all these departments of a retail company. In this option, the focus is on store level dietitians, who provide direct services to shoppers and the local community and report through a department of the company with significant leadership of the company’s health and wellness strategy. This structure would also work for regional RDs in place of store RDs.

Sample Health and Wellness Organizations

Another key difference which can impact the retail RD role is their reporting hierarchy within your company. RDs who report through marketing or communications are often more involved in leveraging nutrition in existing retail programs such as website, circulars, advertising, etc. This reporting relationship may have the broadest opportunity to impact other departments of the store, and the merchandising and in-store promotion of healthier products. Store dietitians who report through the store director may have more autonomy in the services offered as well as engage in and lead more initiatives that directly relate to the demographic of their store’s market area. A variety of options for reporting structures are shown here as examples. They can be customized to align with your current organization.



Learn more about Retail Dietitians.

Back to Top