Natural Foods Merchandiser

Helping customers help themselves

Guiding customers to buy the right product can be a tricky business. But in Friday’s session, “Helping Customers Help Themselves: Q&A with Healing Experts,” three experts offered a variety of tips to retailers on this subject.

The Nutrition Reporter and personal nutrition coach, Jack Challem, discussed the need to listen to customers and consider a person’s eating and lifestyle habits when looking for solutions to a health issue. “When you’re trying to sell a customer something, don’t just sell the supplements. Think of the whole picture.” Challem outlined the fine line a retailer walks in offering advice without appearing to be diagnosing a customer. “You should always know your own expertise and limitations, and know when you should urge your customer to see a physician,” he said.

But most customers, he added, have a sense of what’s wrong with them, and will likely self-diagnose once they start talking. In making recommendations, Challem encouraged retailers to recommend only a couple of supplements at a time so as to not overwhelm the customer. And proper diet and exercise should always be emphasized in addition to supplement recommendations.
Next, Dr. Marcus Laux, naturopathic physician and editor of Naturally Well Today, addressed more specific recommendations for patients. Laux charismatically offered in-store solutions for four critical health problems facing today’s population:

• Upper gastro-intestinal gut health (heartburn, acid reflux, ulcers, belching, hiccups, regurgitation, bad breath, food sensitivities and nasal congestion)
• Lower GI gut health (bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and flatulence)
• Joint pain
• Cardiovascular concerns

The audience was particularly interested in new recommendations such as DAO enzymes as a lower GI remedy, and Cordia—a topical cream that derives from a tropical shrub that grows throughout South America—for joint pain.
Finally, Aisle 7’s (formerly known as Healthnotes) senior product director, Bill Schneider, offered stats on what consumers are looking for these days. He took some of the pressure off retailers when he finished by sharing that 92 percent of consumers believe information they get on their own is better than information from a sales clerk. And 74 percent of consumers find the mediums of newsletters and in-store magazines to be the most helpful in making new product purchases.

Nancy Coulter-Parker
Editor in chief
Delicious Living

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