Meet the Expert
Who: Emily Foster
What: Registered dietitian
Where: Glowing Potential
‘Retailtainment’ is a fairly common phrase within the food industry nowadays, with brands and retailers alike aiming to provide engaging experiences for customers that induce sales.
As a growing focus on healthy eating grips consumers, however, a subsection of this experiential approach is taking root: ‘edutainment,’ a portmanteau that puts the focus on the educational aspect of the entertainment.
It’s with edutainment that I believe food brands and retailers could be the real change agents.
Recently in the UK, we’ve seen multiple nutritional policies rolling out, with more on the horizon – think the sugar tax on beverages, the aim for 20% reduction of sugar in children’s products by 2020, the potential for mandated calories on UK restaurant menus, etc.
Is there an opportunity to work with these guidelines to provide innovative edutainment for customers as well as increase sales? Research and interventions abroad suggests the answer is yes.
Watching your figures
A review into the “effectiveness of obesity-related interventions at retail grocery stores and supermarkets,” published in healthcare journal BMC in 2016, found that healthy food interventions (e.g. campaigns, promotions, etc.) did increase the purchase of healthy foods.
In the United States, a programme called Eat Right, Live Well! A Supermarket Intervention to Increase Healthy Food Purchases saw a 23.1% increase in healthful product sales that were promoted by pricing strategies, nutrition education, sampling and labelling at point-of-purchase.
We know that food brands and retailers can pair up to create some impactful results. The other piece of good news is that the action can also promote growth. An article published in the Canadian Grocer reported that when retail dietitians were involved, sales lifts of 50-100% were seen – not bad for a health profession that sometimes has a reputation as the ‘food police.’
This formula can work for a variety of food brands, regardless of size. As a previous in-store dietitian, I have worked to provide edutainment for products that range from cereals, to yogurts, to gluten-free bread, to spice kits. There are always nutrition and health nuggets to talk about with your ideal customer: fibre, calcium needs, vitamin D – the list goes on.
At best, the customer learns something about their health and well-being while trying your product, then purchases it; at worst, the customer gets a free sample and heads along their merry way.
A lesson in edutainment
Based on previous interventions and research, the formula for a successful edutainment piece is fairly straightforward:
1. A pricing strategy or reduction
2. A promotion strategy (sampling, store tour, display, mini event)
3. A licensed nutrition or health expert providing the edutainment content or event
It’s really important that the licensed nutrition or health expert is stressed here – it’s tempting as a brand to want to play the educator role, but unless you have someone internally qualified, steer clear. Transparency and credibility are so important to building trust for your brand. You want to ensure you’re providing credible, science-based content to your customer – giving you peace of mind that you’re not giving out dangerous or unhelpful advice.
You’re looking for nutrition and health experts such as registered dietitians, registered (or associate) nutritionists or other licensed health experts that are held accountable by a third party (usually the HCPC or UKVRN). These experts will have a university education in science and should be able to easily explain nutrition and health concepts to you with enthusiasm.
With long-term health conditions accounting for around 50% of all GP appointments, could retailers and food brands play an important role of helping shoppers understand more about their health and well being while having fun with food in-store? I definitely think so.