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Nutrisystem dedicates senior executive resources against retail expansion channel strategy

BY Michael Johnsen

FORT WASHINGTON, Pa. — Nutrisystem feels it has a role to play in helping Americans meet their health-and-wellness goals, the company’s chief executive shared with analysts on Tuesday. And that role may play out in retail. 

"New healthcare legislation creates an opportunity for Nutrisystem to take a leadership role in health management by helping consumers, healthcare professionals, employers and insurance companies tackle obesity and the chronic conditions that often accompany it, such as diabetes and heart health," noted Dawn Zier, Nutrisystem president and CEO. "We believe demand for Nutrisystem will increase as obesity reduction and preventive measures become incentivized by insurers and employers as the weight of overall healthcare cost," she added. "We have appointed a senior level executive to own this growth opportunity and are expanding existing partnerships, as well as developing new ones." 

One of the strategies on which Nutrisystem is focusing is retail distribution. The company recently expanded its pilot testing the sales draw of the company’s Nutrisystem D 5-Day Jumpstart Weight Loss Kit with Walmart from 2,000 stores to 3,700 stores. Sales are doing well, Zier said. "Our Walmart initiative is making a meaningful contribution to revenue and profitability, and we are excited about the opportunity to grow in the retail channel."

Zier suggested it won’t stop at the mass channel for retail distribution. Nutrisystem also has had product available in the supermarket channel through Kroger and in club with Costco. Could the drug or convenience channels be next?

"We are in the process of developing a channel and product strategy to complement our success with the 5-Day Kit," Zier told analysts. "We are taking a deliberate approach towards our retail expansions, and we are very carefully looking at retail margins since they can vary by structure."

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GNC names new EVP business development

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH — GNC on Monday named Carmine Fortino EVP business development. Fortino comes to GNC from Atrium Innovations, a Canadian natural health products company, where he was president. Fortino also was a former director of GNC from 2007 to 2011.

"[Carmine’s] background in multi-channel development across the health & wellness segment will enhance our approach to new market opportunities as we continue to implement GNC’s proven growth strategy," stated Joseph Fortunato, GNC’s chairman, president and CEO.

Before Atrium Innovations, Fortino served Seroyal International as CEO. Fortino also has held various management roles within Loblaw Companies, including EVP of Ontario operations. Earlier, he served as EVP of Zehrmart Limited, an Ontario-based grocery chain owned by Loblaw Companies. 

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Rite Aid launches marketing campaign for Wellness65+

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid is launching a marketing campaign centered around its new extension to the Wellness+ loyalty card program aimed at seniors, the retail pharmacy chain said Monday.

The integrated campaign for Wellness65+ – launched last month – features seniors actively engaged in activites like swimming laps, riding a roller coaster or having a water fight with grandchildren. It promotes the various features of the program, which is aimed at seniors and provides several benefits in addition to the standard Wellness+ program. Ad agency Marc USA created the program, which includes TV and radio spots and social media advertising.

"Amid new healthcare legislation and the growing array of options, heath care can be more confusing than ever," Rite Aid SVP marketing John Learish said. "A key goal of Wellness65+ is to create ongoing dialogue between Rite Aid pharmacists and their patients to better help them reach their wellness goals. Retail brands have an opportunity to create in-store experiences and offerings that foster stronger relationships and truly build loyalty. It’s just one more way we can provide value. Wellness65+ provides seniors, one of our most important consumer bases, with products and services specifically targeted to meet their needs." 

A cross-country mobile tour will visit more than 30 Rite Aid markets between now and March 2014 to promote the program, with partnerships in each city between Rite Aid and local organizations to host special community wellness events for seniors and their families. These will include free health screenings, pharmacist consultations and local experts on fitness, finance, legal and technology issues.

"Each Wellness65+ TV spot opens with a senior reflecting… ‘How did I get here?’" Marc USA chief creative officer Bryan Hadlock said. "The scenarios personify health and wellness as being able to do what you enjoy most whether it’s a physical challenge or special moments with the people you love. The spots complete the loop by showing the role of the Rite Aid pharmacist in the senior’s life — helping each customer get to a place where he or she is living life to the fullest."


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