During FMI Connect, Wakefern Food Corp. representatives from the frontlines of health and wellness – VP Pharmacy Jonathan Thacker, Retail Dietitian Supervisor Melanie Dwornik, and Manager of Health and Wellness Natalie Menza – discussed the Keasbey, N.J.-based retail cooperative’s approach to this all-important issue in its ShopRite and Price Rite stores, located in the Northeast.
The presentation, "Impact in the Aisles," which was held June 9 in the Learning Lounge on the show floor, explored the grocer's Live Right with ShopRite program, which includes in-store monthly events, strong community partnerships with hospitals and schools, and free services like store tours, cooking classes and individual consultations with customers.
Dwornik also noted ShopRite's Live Right Kids Day effort, which encourages youngsters to try new foods and get involved in meal preparation through in-store culinary workshops that aim to show participants that making healthy meals isn't that difficult.
Dwornik noted that the program's emphasis on community partnerships involves building on existing ties as well as creating new ones. Besides reaching out to area organizations, store dietitians also spend a lot of time in the aisles talking to shoppers, and finding out their concerns, health-and-wellness needs, and interests as well as what eating trends were prevalent in the area.
Menza said that this practice enabled stores to tailor content in its print, digital and in-aisle promotions, giving rise to such features as the Dietitian's Selection program, which aims to provide shoppers with new ideas through products recommended by their particular store's dietitian.
The co-op also strives to bring a total-store solution to shoppers through the collaboration of dietitians and pharmacists, resulting in a one-stop shop. To this end, as Thacker noted, store layouts were designed with pharmacies and dietitians' stations in close proximity to facilitate shopper contact with both. He also explained how Wakefern seeks to reach consumers at the moment their health needs start by establishing ShopRite pharmacies in hospitals.
Efforts to engage shoppers with a particular health need included a diabetic product set developed in partnership with Johnson & Johnson and located near the pharmacy section, leading to "great results," and a patient opt-in four-week diabetes management program in which participants can tap the expertise of pharmacists and dietitians to get a handle on their condition. According to Thacker, patients who took part in the program ended up needing to take lower medication dosages, practiced better medication adherence, became more knowledgeable and confident in their food choices, and made sustainable lifestyle changes.
In answer to a question from the audience on the business aspect of running such a program, Thacker replied that greater customer loyalty in response to being offered a "complete solution" to health-and-wellness issues drove business, but that beyond dollars and cents, a commitment to health and wellness was also "the right thing to do."