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Supermarket Wellness Watch: Retailers spotlight healthier kids’ choices

BY David Orgel

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.

 

 

 

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Target reaching out more to Latino consumers

BY Gina Acosta

Target is spending more this year on Spanish language marketing as it looks to draw more Latino customers into its stores, according to a new report from Marketplace.org.

Target's spending on Spanish-language TV is up 67% over the year for the holiday season. Its ads running now on English- and Spanish-language TV networks feature bilingual actors.

Read more about Target's outreach to Hispanic consumers by cliking here.

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Walgreens Balance Rewards used in study of real-world health tracking behaviors

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Monday announced findings from a collaborative study with the Scripps Translational Science Institute suggesting that automated health tracking can significantly improve long-term health engagement.

“This is the first chapter of a remarkable collaboration with Walgreens, enabling us to understand real world connectivity with mobile device health applications, along with behavior and outcome patterns, in an exceptionally large and diverse cohort,” stated Eric Topol, director, STSI.

“Digital technology that enables easy data tracking of healthy behaviors, combined with incentives, and trusted professional support, provide additional motivation for our customers to more easily manage their health,” said Harry Leider, chief medical officer, Walgreens. “We’re especially encouraged by the results of this study. In the two years since it was initiated, we’ve seen a shift from the majority of members in the program tracking their activities manually, to most now tracking them automatically. We’re pleased to continue our relationship with Scripps to advance our work in a way that results in a positive impact on behaviors and outcomes.”

The study examined utilization patterns of participants in Walgreens Balance Rewards for healthy choices, a self-monitoring program that allows members to track health activities and receive incentives for continued tracking and healthy behaviors. It explored the impact of manual versus automatic data entries through a supported device or via apps, the study results were recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The researchers examined activity tracking data – including exercise, weight, sleep, blood pressure, blood glucose data recorded, tobacco use and oxygen saturation – from more than 450,000 Balance Rewards members in 2014. After identifying users with sufficient follow-up data, the study explored trends in participation over time. The results demonstrated that 77% of users manually recorded their activities and participated in the program for an average of five weeks. However, users who entered activities automatically using the Balance Rewards supported devices or apps remained engaged four times longer and averaged 20 weeks of participation.

This research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through a grant, and a grant from the Qualcomm Foundation.
 

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