retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Chicago Tribune has a story about how "grocery stores are investing in health and wellness professionals, including registered dietitians, to help customers navigate the myriad decisions on each shopping trip," believing that such investments can help them generate more sales and profits.

The story notes that there are some 11,000 US grocery stores currently served by dietitians, though many of those companies use corporate dietitians and some dietitians cover multiple stores. Increasingly, however, these nutrition professionals are being deployed in stores "to engage with customers."

The Tribune writes that "about 96 percent of grocery stores are committed to expanding health and wellness programs, according to a 2014 report by the Food Marketing Institute, which surveyed 29 grocery chains estimated to represent about 6,800 stores. And 62 percent of stores surveyed employ store dietitians to help them achieve that goal."
KC's View:
It was a few years ago that my friend Phil Lempert founded a trade group called the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance, which is designed to help enable this trend as well as provide continuing education for the dietitians. Smart move, I think, because it puts a broader and more vivid face on a trend that otherwise might be marginalized by some in the food business.

We've had some discussion here recently about retail jobs that go away as some functions become more mechanized and consumers move toward e-commerce. But not all the jobs have to go away ... dietitians can be hired and people can be educated to do these jobs, which at their core are customer service roles that can create relationship with shoppers that can transcend technology. To reiterate a phrase I seem to use a lot, it is about not just being a source of product, but evolving into being a resource for the shopper.