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Natural Grocers launches Texas tie-in

The retailer's first state-based promotional effort includes both merchandising and culinary efforts.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage was born and raised in Colorado, but the chain has gone Texan for its first-ever promotional campaign tied to products made in a state where it operates.

The Lakewood, Colorado-based retailer, which operates nearly 150 stores in 19 different states, has joined the Go Texan marketing campaign that seeks to promote the sale of products made in that state.

“We have a strong presence in Texas, with 25 stores, and wanted to support the communities there in which we do business by offering a discount tied to our {N}power loyalty program on local Texas products, which also highlights the local Texas vendors,” said Amy Brophy, a spokeswoman for Natural Grocers.

Natural Grocers is offering a 5 percent discount through the loyalty program on all qualified Texas products through March 31, 2019. The discount is being offered by the retailer at no cost to the vendor, Brophy said.

The campaign reflects Natural Grocers’ commitment to the communities where it operates, which is one of the five “founding principles” at Natural Grocers, said Kemper Isely, co-president of Natural Grocers, in a statement.

“Everything is bigger in Texas, so it just made sense for us to make an even bigger commitment to the Texas community with the launch of this campaign,” he said in a statement.

Natural Grocer’s other founding principles are its commitments to quality, nutrition education, affordable pricing, and its employees, whom it refers to as its good4u Crew. The company has always incorporated the merchandising of local products as part of its commitment to community, but the Texas campaign ties Natural Grocers into a larger, statewide effort that includes a Go Texan product seal and involves a host of other retailers, restaurants and farmers markets.

At Natural Grocers, each of the chain’s stores in Texas has the flexibility to merchandise an assortment of Texas products best suited to its local customers, Brophy explained. The approved list contains hundreds of items from dozens of local producers, and includes not only food and beverage products but health and beauty care items as well. The list is posted on the Natural Grocers website, and a printed version is available in stores.

Each Natural Grocers in the state features a local Texas products endcap displaying a variety of Texas-made products. In an intro to the list on the website, Natural Grocers explains, “Although we’re not native, we are a natural fit for Texas and working hard to make sure that our stores reflect the tastes of the communities we serve.”

Brophy said preparing the list of Texas products was a big undertaking.

“There are just so many local Texas products available,” she said. “We hope that the comprehensive list makes it easier for customers to discover products that are made right in their own state of Texas that perhaps they did not know about.”

Natural Grocers has also incorporated culinary elements into the Go Texan effort. The chain has been teaching cooking classes featuring Texas products each Saturday at the Texas State Fair. In addition, select Natural Grocers stores in Texas stores will host monthly cooking demonstrations featuring recipes using local products throughout the rest of 2018.

Natural Grocers, which specializes in organic produce and other products, also said it is supporting the Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association through the campaign. The retailer is a member of the group and said it supports the TOFGA mission by communicating the benefits of organic agriculture and the importance of its use throughout Texas.

The Go Texan campaign was launched by the Texas Department of Agriculture in 1999 with a focus on Texas agricultural products, but has been expanded to include a wide range of Texas-made items and activities. Other states have also rolled out campaigns to promote local producers and appeal to consumer interest in supporting these businesses.

Consumers consider local sourcing to be an even more important attribute than organic for many items, according to a survey of nearly 13,000 consumers conducted earlier this year by Louisville, Colo.-based Market Force Information. The survey found that 58 percent of shoppers said locally sourced meat, produce and dairy products were important, compared with 49 percent who said they prefer organic versions of these items.

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