Focusing on kids’ health isn’t child’s play to food retailers.
More than ever, it demands lots of adult brainpower because the stakes are higher.
For supermarkets, children’s health is the focus of their most prized customer base, millennial parents, who are deluged with media stories about childhood obesity. Yet finding solutions that interest kids while meeting the health expectations of parents is no easy task.
Supermarkets know that success will help bolster their efforts in the battle with other food retail competitors.
How are retailers addressing kids’ health? Some are remaking the store experience for the younger set. One popular initiative is free fruit for kids.
Northern California-based Raley’s places baskets of fruit at store entrances as snacks for children. Likewise, banners of Ahold USA including Martin’s and Giant-Carlisle recently launched a free fruit program for kids with items changing seasonally.
Some retailers are retooling checkouts to layer in more nutritious snack choices, including water and granola bars. Others are trying to engage kids with in-store activities that promote healthy eating, including scavenger hunts that help educate about nutritious choices.
Other efforts reach beyond the store walls to promote healthy living in the home. Hy-Vee, a multi-state retailer based in Iowa, uses its interactive KidsFit website to tout fitness and nutrition. It offers a Five-Week Challenge in which kids and parents learn from an “online Fitcoach.”
Wakefern Food, which operates ShopRite stores in a number of Eastern states, promotes #WellnessWednesday health tips and recipes online. Here’s one piece of advice posted on its website by a registered dietician: “Did you know that children who help their parents prepare healthy meals are more prone to try more foods and subsequently like a larger variety of fruits and vegetables?”
In still another way to engage kids and their parents, retailers are leveraging their community advocacy roles through donations and partnerships. Discount grocer Aldi has partnered with Action for Healthy Kids and the National PTA in a grant program that supports schools’ efforts to boost physical activity and nutritious foods. In another example, healthy foods retailer Sprouts Farmers Market is partnering with non-profit Vitamin Angels on in-store donation campaigns that promote nutrition for children.
Let’s be realistic. Ultimate success for these programs relies not only on promoting healthier choices, but also on helping sales. Retailers need to test various initiatives to see which ones are likely to achieve both objectives. What works for one retailer or store may not do the same for another.
Despite the need for trial and error, it’s becoming clearer that positioning a retail operation as a champion for kids’ health is a powerful direction.
David Orgel is an award-winning business journalist, industry expert and speaker who was the longtime chief editor and content leader of Supermarket News. He is currently the principal of David Orgel Consulting, delivering strategic content and counsel to the food, retail and CPG industries.