Expo East appearance:
Retail Dietitians: Leveraging the In-Store Nutritionist for Effective Customer and Community Engagement
Thursday, September 18
10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Baltimore Convention Center
Retail Dietitians have the unique opportunity to interact with all types of customers ranging from those who are very health-conscious to those who have chronic illnesses and those who are gourmet foodies to those who are picky eaters. On a daily basis, an in-store nutritionist can interact with such a wide range of customers with vastly different questions, all based on the demographics of the store location and the community they serve. Here are three of the more common topics in-store nutritionists deal with regularly:
Consumers are very savvy these days when it comes to nutrition, health, and wellness. They want to stay on the cutting-edge of the next big thing, so they are always asking questions about new products and brands, like chia seeds and coconut oil, and key trends such as gluten-free products, protein-packed foods and beverages, and also omega-3 and vitamin-D fortified foods just to name a few. They also want to better understand the nutrition label and ingredient list. For example, what additives or preservatives should they look out for and why. As registered dietitians, it is our job to sort through the information and share the facts with the consumers. There are many controversial topics where people may feel strongly one way or the other, however, we provide the facts from evidence-based research and the consumer can then make their decision.
The most popular topic discussed with clients would probably have to be weight loss strategies. Most of the clients I see in the store for individual consultations are weight-loss clients. Many customers ask about specific meal plans, products, nutrientd or foods that they should eat to lose weight. After explaining that there is no magic bullet to promote weight loss, we then get into the details of an individualized meal plan that will work for them based on their lifestyle, food preferences, budget, and other factors. Once customers understand the balance between food groups and calories in versus calories out, they leave feeling confident in their ability to execute the meal plan
“As Seen on TV” type questions
As an in-store nutritionist, I see people all the time who come into my office and ask my opinion about something they saw on TV from a television personality or celebrity who made a certain type of nutrition claim or are promoting a certain product or brand. I like to call these questions “As Seen on TV”-type questions because consumers want that quick fix, magic-bullet product to help with weight loss or cure an illness, however, that TV personality or celebrity is not the expert. It’s reassuring and comforting to know that consumers think to ask a registered dietitian, the nutrition expert, first before purchasing that product. It is our job as healthcare professionals to set the record straight on bogus health claims so our customers can make smart, confident choices in the supermarket.
Elisabeth D’Alto is the in-store nutritionist for Martin’s Food Markets in Eldersburg, Maryland. She provides consumer education through individual consultations, group classes, and community outreach. Elisabeth has been a Registered Dietitian since 2006. Elisabeth is currently serving as the Communications Chair for the Maryland Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as the Newsletter Editor for the Dietitians in Business and Communications (DBC) dietetic practice group, and is currently serving as the 2015 DBC Communications Camp Chair. Elisabeth is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.