Day #14: Enhance Content for Class Handouts

Your dietitians are hosting “Back to School Lunch Ideas” classes for hundreds of customers throughout your stores. You want to drive class attendees to your website after the class.

How can you encourage follow-up traffic from the class with Content Explorer?

  1. Find an article on Back to School Lunches
  2. Grab the link
  3. Share it on your class handout materials

It’s that easy. Want to get started? Email us now to access Content Explorer. Or call 877-659-7630.

Helping Today’s Health-Conscious Shopper

We see the headlines everywhere: health is a priority for today’s consumer. And we are told the trend will steadily continue as our long-living senior population grows. This is already evident in the food industry sales reports, which consistently show increasing revenue from supplements, OTC medicines, along with food and beverage items marketed to the health-conscious shopper.

The food industry recognizes the important role they play in the pursuit of better health, and is committed to their customers to help them achieve their personal goals. The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has an initiative that aims to bring grocers together to do just that. And I’m honored to have been invited to the Food Marketing Institute Health & Wellness Advisory Council, a group that is developing strategies and tactics that support their mission: to provide consumers the science-based information they need to make healthy choices for their family.

I know going in that I am particularly interested in how health relates to food. Reading through a recent study on Supermarket Health & Wellness conducted by the Symphony IRI Group, I took note on a slide containing the Most Prevalent Serious Conditions.

Symphony IRI Group study on Supermarket Health & Wellness

All five of these top health conditions are heavily influenced by diet. With over half of Americans dealing with one or more of these conditions, one can assume that there’s a huge opportunity for the food industry to help families better shop their stores, make healthy meals, and maximize vitamins and minerals to lead healthier lives.

Helping people make informed decisions to better their health has been a priority at Aisle7 since the early days of Healthnotes, and something I have personal passion for as well. I look forward to working with industry leaders in the upcoming years as, together, we do our best to help Americans take steps towards a healthy tomorrow.

Simply Complex

Last week Kevin wrote about the incredibly grotesque story of the New Jersey woman trying to eat her way into the book of records by raising her weight to 1,000 pounds from her currently svelte 600 pounds. Ordinarily, I try to tread lightly on issues of obesity because for many people it’s a matter of genetics, not choices.

Not this time. This woman is doing it for a reason. Egged on by her boyfriend and strangers on the Internet, she has a mission to get even fatter. How wonderful. Instead of common sense dictating that people around her stop her, she gets encouraged and 15 minutes of fame on television.

Later in the week I was at a Red Cross blood donation center where the staff informed us donors that diet soft drinks are no longer being offered for health reasons. Then, without a moment’s hesitation, for irony to sink in, the same volunteer offered us the special treats on hand that morning. Not one of those treats contained less than 450 calories. It makes me think that New York City legislators can ban sugar, spice and everything nice and people are still going to find a way to eat the wrong thing. (Those New Yorkers can merely look across the Hudson River to the 600-pound New Jersey resident trying to gain my body weight many times over. What legislation will stop that?)

The problem is that healthy eating isn’t a simple issue of laws and rules. It requires informed choices, restraint and, dare I say it, common sense. The latter isn’t in big supply these days.

Living as I do near Washington DC, I see the world of silliness play out all the time. For many of you reading this, political discussions seem simple because you see (depending on your opinion) the Republicans or Democrats as consistently taking the wrong side of every question. Sadly, it’s not that simple.

Alan Webber, the founder of Fast Company magazine and a wonderful writer, addressed the complexity of our current situation in a fabulous column for USA Today called “The Future of Capitalism.” As Webber put it, it’s the economic debate our nation needs to have. (You can easily find the article through Google.)

Webber’s thoughtful piece lays out something incredibly sensible: that the current economic climate is so different and so new from anything that has happened before that it defies resolution by using the same old answers. Webber then skewers both political parties for retreating to past positions to address the issue instead of daring to deal with the new realities.

Can the same be said of us in business?

The current economic climate is new and different, leaving companies the challenge of crafting responses that must also be both new and different. Quite honestly, that’s a situation that is both uncomfortable and challenging.

We see the growth of complexity in everything these days. We see shopper emphasis on price promotion growing at the same time they still opt for excess on other items. We see it in the very public decisions at Walmart on how much inventory is too much or too little and on where to strike the balance between national and store brands. (And we see it in the on going debate about how to offer healthier foods to a population that doesn’t seem to know how to make good choices.)

These are the debates we cannot avoid. To follow up on Webber’s suggestion, the current climate demands a level of discussion that rises above what we have done in the past. Within companies and between trading partners, new discussions are necessary to craft new solutions that fit the times. Ignoring the issues or using the old arguments won’t work.

It’s all so simple and so complex.

Editor’s Note: Michael Sansolo, Aisle7 board member, Retail Food Industry Consultant and former SVP of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), has a weekly column on MorningNewsBeat called Sansolo Speaks. You can read today’s news here MorningNewsBeat or reach Michael direct at msansolo@morningnewsbeat.com

Aisle7 ONLINE 2010 is here!

Over a year ago, we asked shoppers how often they actively look online for answers to their health and wellness questions and found that over 45% actively look to the web every week.  With the ongoing healthcare discussion that has consumed our country and increasing awareness that the foods we eat and the products we buy are the best way to stay healthy, shoppers are likely more active then ever on the web when it comes to learning about the foods, products and lifestyle choices that can help with their health.

It’s one of the main reasons we created Aisle7 ONLINE 2010, which launched yesterday.  You may have noticed the new website campaign on our homepage.  We think now is a great time for retailers to use the topic of wellness to stand out with their shoppers, and tell their wellness story, their way.  Working with retailers in different parts of the world, we know that wellness isn’t a one size fits all approach. And that’s why Aisle7 ONLINE is introducing several new features to make it easy for retailers to create their own unique health and wellness destination.  With this release you can:

– Create Customized Landing Pages that feature wellness campaigns based on your marketing calendar

– Save Time on content development by using one of our many Interactive Widgets.  Widgets update content automatically and can be placed anywhere on your site

– Drive Traffic and Improve Site Conversion by using new marketing services that allow you to use Aisle7 Wellness Content in your Social Media Programs (Facebook, Twitter) and E-mail and Newsletter Marketing.

To find out more about these new features, take a look at the product tour, or better yet sign up for a demo and see the new product up close and personal.

The bottom line is that now is a great time to reach out to your shoppers on wellness.  And we’re here to help make sure your program really stands out.

“Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign”

There was a wonderful scene on the old “The West Wing” television series in which the US president, played by Martin Sheen, looks to his old parish priest, played by Karl Malden, for guidance. Malden tells Sheen the following story:

One day a man heard radio and television reports that his town was in imminent danger of flooding. Soon after, a policeman came by to warn him. Then when the waters started rising, the rescuers came by boat and then by helicopter. Each time the man rejected the offers saying the Lord would save him. Sadly, he died.

Once in heaven, the man demanded to see the Lord to find out what happened. The response was simple: I sent you the radio and TV messages, the policeman, the boat and the helicopter.

What more did you want?

Sometimes, you have to be open to signs. Last week, I saw two for our industry.

First, Roger Cohen, a columnist in the New York Times, contrasted eating and cooking styles in France and the US, writing: “The American healthcare debate is skewed. It should be devoting more time to changing U.S. culinary and eating habits in ways that cut the need for expensive care by reducing rampant obesity, to which anxiety, haste and disconnectedness contribute.”

Maybe you consider the Times too biased toward anything French. In that case, consider this line, from Self magazine (hardly a seat of politically motivated discussion): “Your ideal body starts in your kitchen. Having nutritious, tasty food on hand is key to conquering cravings, feeling energized, defeating disease and dropping pounds permanently.”

I’m sensing a sign.

The US is embroiled in a debate about health care right now. We’ve already seen how complex this issue can be for a retailer, thanks to John Mackey at Whole Foods. Let’s avoid the complexities for a second and focus on where there is no debate:

America has a health problem and much of it is traced to our burgeoning national waistlines. Much of that problem is linked to the foods we eat, how we cook and our lack of physical activity.

The problem exists and we have the traffic, the customer connections, the food and the information to turn this into an opportunity. We don’t need to take political stands; we need to engage the shopper with what they want and need. That is, dependable information that helps them make good choices. As we’ve seen from some recent flack thrown at product health claims, the information must be solid.

I got a reminder of this while talking with my friends at Aisle 7, the makers of Healthnotes. (Full disclosure, I do a good amount of work with Aisle 7 and I try to keep those kinds of connections out of columns in hopes of being as non-biased as possible. Except sometimes that does you, the reader, a disservice.)

You see, I think Aisle 7 is onto a solution. With an array of products from kiosks to web information to even multiple daily postings on Twitter, Aisle 7 pushes the connection the shopper needs by providing information to help them make better choices on products and meals. It’s simple, straightforward and exactly the kind of step shoppers need. (I actually saw an incredible example of how great this could work at The Wedge natural food co-op in Minneapolis. There, the staff uses the kiosk to help guide shoppers through decisions making both the store and staff seem instantly more engaged and knowledgeable.)

Now, Aisle 7 isn’t alone. There is a tidal wave of information offered to shoppers in the store today through virtually every means possible. It’s just that too often that this wave leaves the shopper drowning like the man in the beginning of this column. We need to help them rather then deluge them.

This isn’t meant to be an ad for Aisle 7 and it’s not. There are competing services and you should consider them all. But consider something. Consider the signs, consider the needs and consider the opportunity that faces your store, your products and your people today. Don’t let this moment pass.

Editor’s Note: Michael Sansolo, Aisle7 board member, Retail Food Industry Consultant and former SVP of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), has a weekly column on MorningNewsBeat called Sansolo Speaks. You can read today’s news here MorningNewsBeat or reach Michael direct at msansolo@morningnewsbeat.com