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Natural Foods Merchandiser
NFM 1979 flag

A 40-year-old reminder

Think about this old-school advice as you set your strategies for this new world.

When advice is good, it is good.

No matter the year.

Natural Foods Merchandiser launched back in February 1979. On page 12 in that edition, Al Powers of Fruitful Yield said, “We feel in a small business you have to move fast. Retailers who stay with the old patterns and concepts will be in trouble. The health food industry must take advantage of its strong points: name brands, quality, nutritional knowledge and service.”

This sound advice still resonates today as NFM marks 40 years of serving the industry. 

Al went on to serve as CEO of NOW Health Group and retired in 2015.

In today’s increasingly competitive market, speed, iteration—even reinvention—matter more than ever. The trouble to avoid might be different than it was as the calendar turned to the 80s, but the fundamental lesson is the same. For our industry, it’s not enough to just keep up. Natural products retailers need to lead the way.

And they need to commNatural Foods Merchandiser 1979it to strengths, like Al said.

Today, name brands remain key with some wonderful standard bearers. But this is one piece of advice from then that I would tweak: Today’s strong natural retailer will educate—and entertain even—with his or her innovative product selection.

Quality selection: This matters more than ever as everyone joins the natural foods bandwagon. The retailer willing to uphold standards and share its story stands out.

Nutritional knowledge, in this easy-to-get-everything day and age also, remains important. Build trust with consumers as a place to turn for advice.

It matters even among the generations coming of age with phones practically growing from their fingertips.

And service. Old-school service always connects with customers even when delivered with new-world tools.

We allow fast and new to easily distract from the fundamentals. Contemplating 40 years of NFM is a great reminder to step back and commit to the basics in this fast-forward world. It works in business, just as it does for the food on our plates.

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