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Gearing Up for Back-to-School

Whether it’s kindergarten or college, heading off to school evokes a sense of routine, yet many retailers must learn to take advantage of the opportunity that the season also offers.

New habits regarding health and product choices can begin now for your customers. The ideal professional in addressing shoppers’ food, nutrition and wellness needs once school’s in session is the registered dietitian. Nutrition professionals can call attention to better-for-you choices throughout the store, including center store aisles. Some customers may already have a game plan when it comes to packing lunchboxes, making easy after-school snacks and customizing meal solutions, but many don’t. Your store can be business-ready through open communication with dietitians.

These professionals can compile grocery lists that consider preference, cost, taste and even necessary dietary restrictions, to provide a great navigation tool in making center store selections. Dietitians and store chefs can enlist sampling programs, such as Kroger’s Delightful Discoveries, to provide an easy way for customers to trial-run products prior to purchase. Innovative on-the-go products can be merchandised on the shelf and via digital or paper coupons.

The cross-merchandising approach to boost center store traffic this time of year can result in a synergy between nonperishables and perishables. Encourage customers to pick up bananas as a perfect complement to their next PB&J, grab 100 percent fruit juice along with their favorite frozen entrée, or locate great toppings for their next fresh salad to toss together in a plastic container when heading to class.

Appeal to customers buying for bigger households by showing them how to extend use of a product through larger packaging. For instance, a full canister of oats can provide not only hot cereal on Monday mornings, but also cookies, yogurt parfaits, muffins, or flour for bread. A 20-ounce can of pineapple can be dished out into single-serve fruit containers, or tossed into smoothies, baked into a pineapple upside-down cake, or grilled to perfection to add to a favorite burger recipe. This information can be displayed on pre-printed package labels, shelf tags or even in a centralized area of the store.

Easy DIY recipes from staple ingredients can give confidence to many consumer levels of culinary expertise. Signage near raisins with a recipe for homemade trail mix, placards in front of tomato paste for crafting the perfect pasta sauce, or tear pads alongside vegetable broth for a new soup creation all provide convenient go-to recipes for busy weekday homes. Dietitians can think creatively to incorporate private brands to support profit margin while building partnerships with vendors to incorporate trusted products and ingredient decks that enhance the shopping experience.

For customers who may not have classic back-to-school concerns, consider merchandising school-oriented initiatives on behalf of the local community. Dietitians can offer shoppers a list of nutrient-dense shelf-stable items to fill shopping bags for a local organization, which can then be dropped off at the front of the store for $5 off a participating customer’s next in-store purchase.

Relevant center store merchandising is a pivotal focus of your total store sales. A smart back-to-school retail strategy will involve dietitians for their expertise in food, nutrition, diet, trends, meal preparation, and ability to engage and educate shoppers.

A smart back-to-school retail strategy will involve dietitians for their expertise in food, nutrition, diet, trends, meal preparation and ability to engage and educate shoppers.

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