Inside This Issue - News
Move toward health, wellness supported by FMI
October 29th, 2012
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has once again acted on its conviction that supermarkets are the natural place for consumers to benefit from the synergies between nutrition and health care.
The association recently unveiled the FMI Center for Retail Health & Wellness, a Web portal designed to help its retail members maximize opportunities in that part of the business.
"One of the things that we’re trying to do with our health and wellness program is serve as that source of information, inspiration and motivation to really help our members develop the tools they need and establish some benchmarks that they can use to measure their progress," says Cathy Polley, vice president of health and wellness at the association and executive director of the FMI Foundation.
"Supermarket operators are passionate about health and wellness. They understand the opportunity and recognize that it’s theirs to own. More and more of our members are bringing dietitians into their stores. And several of them are putting corporate structures in place where the pharmacists and dietitians are able to work and strategize together, which is really important because all of this is still somewhat new.
"Everyone is trying to figure out the best model to realize the potential that’s there. We see a strong desire all the way up to the CEO level to make this work. We’re still in the experimental phase, but there’s a lot of motivation and a tremendous desire to get it done."
She states that offering health and wellness services is a growing trend in the industry, with FMI’s retail members at varying levels of providing those services, both in store and online.
The new center — fmi.org/industry-topics/health-wellness — is intended to function as a clearing house where retailers can find useful information about health and wellness, no matter what stage their program is at. The site includes news, research, a reference center, and a tool kit and implementation guide. Plans call for the addition of a section called Let’s Put Our Plates Together that will promote the benefits of families eating their meals together.
"The site helps retailers have the right conversations internally, it helps them figure out how to put the right team together, and it provides some examples of things that have worked well at other companies," Polley notes.
The Center for Retail Health & Wellness is the latest chapter in a story that began shortly after Polley, a registered pharmacist who practiced at Kmart Corp. before working at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the American Pharmacists Association, joined FMI in 2007.
"I was brought in to focus on pharmacy, but it was very quickly recognized, both internally and by our members, that what makes us special in the supermarket industry is pharmacy connected to the rest of the store," she recalls. "The question we faced was how to get our pharmacists, center store merchandisers, registered dietitians and nutrition specialists to all work together to give customers the best possible experience, whether they were coming in as a patient on the pharmacy side or just a routine shopper looking for healthier food choices.
"What we’ve done over the last few years is try to put venues together that allow the conversations to happen."
The latest innovation in FMI’s show schedule is to colocate next year’s pharmacy conference with the Global Market Development Center’s health and beauty aids meeting. The event will be held from May 29 through June 1 at the JW Marriott Hill Country hotel in San Antonio.
"Consumers embracing the journey of a healthier lifestyle are looking for assistance in pulling together all the various pieces — health, food and nutrition, exercise, and appearance — in a way that feels holistically right to them," Polley noted at the time the partnership was announced. "Combining the resources of our two associations means we can offer food retailers and wholesalers a strong, more integrated conference; one that will help them tell a cohesive health and wellness story resonating up and down every aisle of the supermarket.”
The FMI Center for Retail Health & Wellness is another means to that end.
"Customers are beginning to understand the connections that our members are establishing in the stores," says Polley. “Their attention is being called to them through in-store signage, kiosks, mobile apps, store tours conducted by dietitians, smoking cessation classes, cooking classes for diabetes patients and more.
"As word of those things gets out in the community people realize that our stores are a great resource for fostering the well-being of their families. The ultimate goal is to position the supermarket as the destination for health and wellness."
FMI’s mission is to help equip its members to meet the needs of a broad range of health and wellness consumers.
"For retailers, it’s all about working with shoppers to give them the information they need to make the right decisions," Polley explains. "Our members are trying to help customers cut through all the clutter. There’s a lot of information out there about healthier choices, and it can be confusing.
"There’s a role for the supermarket all along the consumer spectrum — from the person who wants to take small steps and make just one healthier choice a day to vegans and triathletes."