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THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Retailers Get a Healthy Start to 2024

28 Feb 2024

As part of their ongoing mission to help clients stay ahead of the competition in a fast-paced, constantly evolving marketplace, Mars United Commerce’s Customer Development team closely monitors the strategic activity taking place across all key retailers and channels.

Each month, the teams compile Marketplace Assessment reports on retailers (Walmart, Target, Amazon, Kroger, Best Buy, Ulta Beauty) and channels (Regional Grocery, C-Store, Drug, Value, Pet, Club, Beauty, Home Improvement) that are most important to the business success of our clients. The following report outlines noteworthy events across five key retailers from the team’s most recent round of assessments. (To receive copies of the full reports, contact Group SVP Kandi Arrington at [email protected].)

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Meijer Launches Nutrition Coaching

Meijer enhanced its focus on health & wellness recently through a program offering shoppers nutritional coaching from registered dietitians. The “Nutrition by Meijer” program positions the retailer as a one-stop “wellness destination.” Sessions are conducted by phone, with dietitians offering guidance based on each individual’s needs. Currently available only in its home state Michigan, Meijer plans to expand the service across its full six-state footprint.

Relevance: As retailers continue to help shoppers on their health & wellness journeys, there’s no better time to launch new initiatives than the resolution-fueled start of a new year. And FMI finds that such health & wellness efforts are paying off, with half of consumers surveyed in a new report agreeing that grocers are “on my side” for health-related issues and 49% claiming the same for registered dietitians.

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The Giant Co. Hosts Pantry Makeovers

Meanwhile, store dietitians at Ahold Delhaize USA’s The Giant Co. division hosted a video series of pantry makeovers throughout January. Each week, dietitians reviewed different categories of kitchen staples, discussed their favorite products, and presented recipes. Loyalty cardholders automatically earned 50 rewards points for each session attended and could also enter a sweepstakes awarding their own dietitian-led pantry makeover.

Giant Food, a fellow Ahold Delhaize USA division, has been hosting free, weekly nutrition and healthy-living classes online since April 2020, and ran a nutrition-focused series in early 2023. 

Relevance: Educational initiatives like these are a great way to help get shoppers in front of dietitians without having to go through a healthcare portal, and are a great avenue for building shopper loyalty through relevant, food-related programs and services. They also can be used to showcase products and drive sales.

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It’s a ‘New Year, New You’ in Club Stores 

With New Year’s resolutions sending consumers to the gym or the health aisles of local stores, both Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club sought to give members the tools they needed to achieve their goals.

Costco devoted prime in-store real estate to private label and national brand vitamins and supplements, while BJ’s spotlighted supplements along with nutritious food and exercise equipment across its website. 

Relevance: Both efforts sought to give members easy access to the products they needed to deliver on their New Year’s resolutions intact, giving the retailers opportunities to capitalize on early-year purchase trends.

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Walmart Simplifies the Game Day Party

Healthy eating resolutions are made to be broken, however, and there’s no better excuse to do so than a football watch party. Walmart.com sought to make game-day party hosting as easy as clicking a button with a new tool in its Recipe Hub offering one-click purchase of a pre-selected group of snacks, dips, drinks, and other relevant products from brands including Lay’s, Pepsi, Totino’s, and Walmart’s private label Great Value. Shoppers were able to adjust the serving sizes to match their own party needs. 

Relevance: The one-click capability positioned Walmart as a single-stop option for all game-viewing party needs, saving shoppers time in browsing time but also making sure they didn’t feel compelled to visit other retailers. 

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Opportunities for Brands

Retailers continue leaning into key consumer trends and purchase occasions in an effort to establish themselves as convenient, one-stop sources for all shopper needs. Brands should be ready to lend a hand in relevant ways.

As grocers and other retailers push more into health & wellness initiatives, brands should meet with their merchant and marketing partners to find opportunities to aligning their brand activity. They also should consider revamping their own marketing messages — and perhaps even the product portfolio — to embrace the health & wellness trend and respond to shifting shopper needs.

The move toward healthier eating requires shoppers to become better informed about the products they’re buying, which makes it even more important for brands to ensure that their product display pages on retailer websites contain comprehensive, up-to-date and easily accessible information. They also should closely monitor product reviews on social media and other digital platforms where shoppers are seeking out product recommendations. (More information on optimizing the digital shelf can be found here.) 

While the produce aisle can provide some healthier snack options to the party spread, brands might need to stop focusing entirely on health & wellness when planning a successful game-day table. Multi-brand marketers have a good opportunity to work with retailers like Walmart as they work to simplify shopping through bundled offers and services. Consider partnerships around specific holidays, lifestyle events, and shopping occasions that will help retailer partners build baskets. These programs also can be a great opportunity to drive product trial for items that otherwise might not be considered for the typical shopping list.

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The Mars United Commerce Customer Development practice is an unrivaled team of in-market commerce experts who simplify the complexity of retail for our clients. Located in Bentonville, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Tampa and the “backyards” of other key retailers, they provide deep knowledge of the retailer, expertise in key business areas (like strategy, media and creative), and door-opening personal relationships with key executives to deliver an unmatched level of business success for clients across accounts, channels and shopper engagement platforms. For more information, contact Group SVP Kandi Arrington at arringtonk@marsunited.

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