A game changer for retailer community efforts
Bringing together partners and even competitors
Retailers have been involved in community programs since the beginning of time, or at least since the first merchant opened its doors.
These often follow a similar pattern. A retailer works with one or more community partners to help support local efforts. Activities typically involve in-store programs, education, donations, local volunteer efforts, and the like.
All this supports the community, results in a positive halo for the retailer, and draws the company closer to its customer base.
Retailers in the food and drug industries tend to be especially good at these efforts.
However, there’s a built-in challenge. Community efforts often have limited scale. They don’t usually involve a widespread number of local and national partners, especially retail competitors. This makes it hard to build a 360-degree community initiative with game-changing impacts.
Enter the Consumer Goods Forum and its groundbreaking “One for Good” health campaign, launched in the middle of last year in Hagerstown, Maryland. This is an initiative chock full of best practices for all kinds of retail community efforts, whether for wellness or other topics. And so far it has progressed without too much national exposure, as partners take the time to experiment with best approaches on a local level.
CGF, a global organization of retailers, manufacturers and service providers, has partnered with Healthy Washington County, a public and private collaboration of community partners in the Hagerstown area. Those participants range from Meritus Health to the local Chamber of Commerce.
Providing even more fuel is a considerable number of manufacturer partners, including PepsiCo, Campbell Soup, Danone and Johnson & Johnson.
And here’s the most interesting part: the effort even brings together competing local retailers as partners, including Martin’s (Ahold Delhaize), Walmart, and Walgreens Boots Alliance. That kind of collaboration ensures the impact will extend to multiple consumer segments of the community.
The One for Good name alludes to how small steps – whether from consumers or partner collaborators – can make huge differences over time in consumer health outcomes.
How does this all play out in practice? Here are some of the initiatives pursued:
- Targeting Needs: A big focus of the Hagerstown campaign is on diabetes and childhood obesity, based on that community’s health challenges.
- Care Packs: One for Good ‘CarePacks’ are distributed in stores. These contain information about making healthier choices for food and fitness, along with providing healthy product samples, recipes, and coupons.
- Events: A wide range of events are promoted by individual retailers, which may include, for example, health screenings, immunizations, diabetes awareness days, and health classes.
- In-store presentations: Retailers mount in-store displays for the campaign, for instance showcasing food and nonfood solutions for specific health conditions.
- Associate training: CGF supports retailer efforts to help store employees understand the One For Good campaign and its purpose. This enables associates to act as in-store ambassadors to support customer wellness needs.
I spoke to Sharon Bligh, director, Health and Wellness, CGF, who explained why it’s essential to involve so many players — including retail competitors — in this campaign.
“No retailer, manufacturer or community can do something like this alone,” she said. “The learnings are faster when you do it together.”
The One for Good program pursues a metrics-based approach that looks at two major KPIs: raising awareness of health and wellness and supporting healthier baskets. The campaign just received a boost from a positive assessment of early results by partner Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
What’s next? CGF hopes to add initiatives in more U.S. communities over time, which would be tailored to local needs, and to introduce components for online shopping as well. Also, given its global reach, CGF is pursuing a range of consumer health initiatives in numerous countries, and expects to share lessons between countries and CGF members.
All this makes sense, and there’s no reason One for Good-type strategies can’t be used for other industry community efforts that go beyond health. CGF’s approaches are solid and transferable. It’s about collaborating at the local and national levels for maximum scale, measuring results, and adjusting based on feedback. It’s also about the benefits of involving a maximum number of participants. If that doesn’t represent an ideal approach to community efforts, I’m not sure what does.
David Orgel is an award-winning business journalist, industry expert and speaker. He currently is the principal of David Orgel Consulting, delivering strategic content and counsel to the food, retail and CPG industries. To read last month’s column, click here.
Making wellness simple is complex
New initiatives from Kroger and Hy-Vee take innovative approaches
Wellness is a particularly challenging topic for consumers. They desperately want it, but often don’t know how to get it.
That’s because it’s confusing and complex. Just when a health fact seems like the real thing, it gets debunked. It’s hard to navigate through all the “expert” advice. At retail, when a question is posed to an in-store associate, the answer isn’t always well-informed. Too often store layouts segregate products by aisle rather than bringing together cross-merchandised wellness solutions.
Make no mistake, retailers across channels have markedly improved their wellness strategies. However, shopper expectations continue to advance, making it hard to keep up.
Retailers, though, understand the high stakes. It will be no surprise to informed readers that this country is in the midst of a health care crisis marked by obesity, chronic health conditions, mounting costs, and frustrated consumers taking measures into their own hands through self-care strategies.
How can the industry make wellness easier and more meaningful for shoppers? The answer is to focus on simplifying, curating, educating and personalizing.
Two efforts introduced this summer by high-profile retailers underscore the point.
First, Hy-Vee unveiled a new health-focused, small-store format that builds on strategies it has pursued in other stores.
The goal of this format, called Hy-Vee HealthMarket, is to make wellness convenient by curating a range of important solutions under one roof. The first store opened in West Des Moines, Iowa at the beginning of August. This outlet, at about 15,000 square feet, seems just the right size to present a curated experience. It offers healthy lifestyle and personal care items, including fresh foods and grocery. The store contains a full-service pharmacy, health clinic, hearing aid center, sports nutrition area, all-natural bath and beauty products, and a hydration station featuring nitro coffee and kombucha. There’s even an adjacent 3,000-square-foot Orangetheory Fitness Center.
According to an interview in the Des Moines Register, Hy-Vee anticipates eventually opening between 50 to 60 of these HealthMarket outlets, starting with two more next year.
Hy-Vee has already built a solid health profile across its markets, and these strategies take it to a new level.
Another important but quite different initiative was recently launched by Kroger called OptUP, it’s a data-driven wellness app built with the goal of encouraging simplicity and informed choices for shoppers.
The app combines solutions to a range of consumer wellness challenges into a single package. It provides nutrition guidance and boosts convenience.
As explained in a Kroger announcement, key features include scoring groceries based on nationally-recognized dietary guidelines (with input from Kroger dietitians); providing personalized product recommendations; presenting a “household OptUp score;” offering tools to scan and search products for nutrition information and product alternatives; and bringing the capability to add better-for-you options to a digital cart for curbside pickup or delivery.
The goal is a streamlined experience, but it likely came about through a lot of complex work behind the scenes. Kroger’s Yael Cosset, chief digital officer, pointed out that the app resulted from “a collaboration among our health, tech, digital and 84.51°” teams. The latter is a Kroger unit that leverages technology and customer data.
The examples of Hy-Vee and Kroger are important ones. Both of these retailers have managed to simplify and enhance wellness experiences for shoppers.
It’s true these retailers are already best-in-class for health strategies, but that doesn’t place such innovations off limits to others. The ultimate payoffs are more accessible wellness for consumers, and, presumably, improved loyalty and sales for retailers.
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. To read last month’s column, click here.
Taxes, tampons, and feminine hygiene marketing
This summer, feminine hygiene products have been an unlikely topic of breaking news. Burger King ran a commercial about the pink tax, the higher price women pay for products marketed to them. The New York Times drummed up heated debate with an article about menstrual equality. New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney made national news by his effort to provide feminine hygiene products to his staffers.
No matter where you stand on these issues, this level of attention makes one thing very clear. Feminine products are a big business—a multibillion-dollar business and growing. In 2018, the industry is expected to bring in $2.7 billion in 2018 in the U.S., up 3 percent from the prior year, according to Statista.
But will all this attention create an uptick in sales? The big feminine hygiene brands are experts at getting the cash register ringing with their products, and they didn’t spend their summer months vying for breaking-news headlines. According to Alphonso data, Always, the biggest spender in July, and Tampax, the second biggest spender, spent much of their time advertising on MTV, with focused attention on the show Teen Mom 2. Always ran its Ultra Thin “Rewrite The Rules” TV commercial on Teen Mom 2 a total of 60 times and Tampax ran its “Pearl & Active” spot on the show 53 times. These brands—both owned by Procter & Gamble—also simultaneously ran Spanish-language versions of these commercials.
Combe’s Vagisil brand also pursued this dual-language strategy for its Odor Block Daily Intimate Wash. A bilingual actor produced two versions of the spot. The English-language version ran most often on the show Snapped about female murders on the Oxygen network.
Perhaps what’s most notable about feminine hygiene brand advertising is its diversity. Of the top 10 commercials in the sector aired last month, four were repurposed for different audience sectors and many featured women of different ethnicities. They know feminine hygiene is something women care about, and brands are conscious to reflect this reality in their marketing. So, even when the 24/7 news cycle stops talking about tampons and taxes, these brands will still be getting the attention of U.S. women.
TS Kelly is senior vice president of research for Alphonso, a TV data company that provides real-time TV campaign analytics, one-to-one TV ad retargeting, and closed-loop attribution for brands and agencies. In his role at Alphonso, Kelly deep dives into television data and insights, giving clients guidance on how to optimize their TV spend.