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Retail messaging to encourage the healthy eating journey

Many people are just on the first steps toward their healthy eating journey. Retailers need to recognize that and develop strategies to help natural and organic newcomers join this new way of eating and living at their own pace.

A friend of mine is a family therapist. She sees a vast array of dysfunctional, unproductive, and illogical habits in her work and has to evaluate progress on steps, even small ones, taken in the right direction. If she waited for ideal behavior, she would have a long wait.  She does a great thing for her clients by giving them credit for the direction of their activity and not waiting for their arrival at their destination. 
These thoughts bring me back to natural products retailing.
Many have chronicled the acceptance and success of natural and organic health and wellness products inside stores whose inventory consists mainly of highly processed junk food. There was some degree of surprise that these products could coexist in the same retail space. Some of the products' success is certainly due to convenience and some of it is due to shelf placement and trial.  Some of it is attributable to the exciting trend of consumers choosing to start living healthy lives. And though they haven't arrived at that healthy "destination," they are willing to start a journey.
As long as more and more people adopt this mindset, natural and organic products will sell in conventional retail outlets. So what's a natural products retailer to do?
One strategy is to be patient. Those playing around a slippery creek bank are more likely to fall into the water than those nowhere near the creek. A certain segment of the consumers buying health and wellness products in supermarkets are going to want to find more. When they want more than eight to 12 choices of natural cereal or more variety than half of a door of organic frozen food, they will start looking! Granted, we don’t know how long that will take or how many consumers will indeed seek out a dedicated natural and organic retailer. So, while patience is real, it is hardly a strategy to build a business on.
The second, and more important, thing to keep in mind is to be aware of the messaging you are sending to customers. Look critically at your marketing, your merchandising and signage, and the conversations that you and your staff have with shoppers. Do you sound like an exclusive club, open only to those conversant in the terminology of non-GMO, Gluten-Free, rBGH? Are only the healthy encouraged to come or welcomed when they arrive?  Or, are you sending a message of health and welcome to all in your community?  Thinking of the movie Dodgeball, are you seen and do you sound like a Globo Gym, only welcoming the chiseled and fit?  Or, like Average Joe’s are you there to welcome anyone who wants to be better and start on a journey to health?

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