At the 2021 RDBA Virtual Experience, the panel on Cross Cultural Micro Marketing at Retail proved to be a great start to more dialogue on meeting the needs of and communicating to multi-cultural households. Moderated by Annette Maggi, MS, RD, LD, FADA, RDBA Executive Director, we heard valuable insights from Mike Lancaster, Business Manager at United Supermarkets, LLC, and Sarah Putnam, Director of Operations at Coborn’s, Inc.
A key skill looked for when retailers hire dietitians is culinary ability. Proficiency as a good home cook is often a requirement for retail RD roles. Today we’re seeing that the pivot many programs made to digital food demos and cook-alongs is likely to continue into the foreseeable future, making culinary chops even more important for success in reaching shoppers. The good news is that there are a variety of ways to gain skill, expertise, and even certification, in culinary arts.
One of the retail fallouts from the pandemic was the closing of self-service, prepared food stations such as salad bars. As safety concerns most likely will continue, the fate of bringing these food stations back remains far from certain. Because of this, retailers and equipment suppliers are rethinking the role self-service food areas will play in the future. Retail RDNs can use their skills and knowledge to suggest solutions that meet consumer and store needs. Here are some considerations:
Thirty percent of consumers indicate that environmental sustainability is more important in their food purchase decisions than it was ten years ago, according to the 2020 IFIC Food and Health Survey. More than 40 percent indicate knowing a manufacturer is committed to producing a food in an environmentally sustainable way impacts buying habits. Based on this consumer interest, carbon labeling is emerging as a method for food companies to provide information on sustainability.
If you asked the typical family about their favorite meals, chances are they will include pasta, tacos, pizza, sandwiches and beef burgers on the list. In fact, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff recently looked at consumer research that reinforces how much Americans truly love a delicious beef burger, especially fresh off the grill. From where you sit, as a registered dietitian in retail, this presents an opportunity.
Most retailers have created popular promotional campaigns to highlight seasonal fruits and veggies from local farms. To assist your stores with these efforts and to help drive sales across the store, consider the power of pairing frozen foods with seasonal, local produce. With a post pandemic focus on meals that provide health and nutrition attributes, combined with the ongoing need for convenience, consumers will appreciate new ways to pair up favorite frozen foods with produce for quick and nourishing meals. Here are some creative ways to provide meaningful solutions:
The past 16 months have brought a lot of changes to our supermarkets and to the role of the retail dietitian. Some might argue that some of these changes, especially those that involve improved sanitation practices, were long overdue. The more intense cleaning of shopping carts, checkstands and dairy and freezer door handles will continue long after the pandemic subsides. In March of this year, iRI released their study that found 99% of American shoppers feel safer at stores that provide sanitizing stations and 40% will go out of their way to shop at retailers that provide these stations.
At grocery retail, a key goal is for all community members to find foods that fit their eating habits. This goal is, in part, accomplished by micro-marketing based on individual store or key markets. During this session, hear from retail buyers on how data is driving cross-cultural micro-marketing decisions to offer cultural foods important to local communities.