LANDOVER, Md. -- Giant Food here is linking diabetes to shopper loyalty by forming a Diabetes Club.
The program, announced last month for BonusCard members, complements the retailer's existing diabetes store tours, said Janet Tenney, Giant Food's manager of nutrition programs. Participants interested in joining the club provide their 12-digit card number, name and address at any Giant or Super G store. Club members receive a $5 discount on the store tours and three newsletters on diabetes care throughout the year.
Over 10,000 people have participated in the diabetes store tours for the past eight years, Tenney said. "From the tours, we recognized that people wanted more -- more ways of managing the disease year-round. We [can better] retain loyal customers," she said. Odonna Mathews, consumer advisor, said in a written statement, "Based on the tremendous response this program has received through our market area, we can see that there is a real need to provide this invaluable information to people living with diabetes." Tenney said the newsletters will also help fill the gap. The first newsletter addresses health advocacy, and how health benefits have changed. Tenney added that each newsletter highlights a recipe. In the first one, the featured recipe is Mediterranean chicken and pasta.
The Diabetes Store Tours this year will run from March 27 through May 24 for a $15 registration fee. The tours are two hours long. Participants are introduced to the pharmacist, said Tenney. With a dietitian leader, the group surveys the floor of food products geared toward their specific interests and needs. According to Tenney, the retailer will run 140 to 200 tours during this period.
Registration forms for diabetes store tours at all Giant and Super G stores must be completed and postmarked by March 15.
Tenney said the retailer saw a need for diabetes education in 1994, when the Food and Drug Administration adopted stricter requirements for food labels and started labeling sugar content.
"Many diabetics were taught erroneously not to eat any sugar, so the labels threw them off," said Tenney. This confusion was coupled with the American Diabetes Association's decision to change its recommendations.
"Diabetes' side effects are so significant that there is more motivation to do something about it," Tenney said. "Diabetics didn't understand their diet, so that clued us in."
A portion of the registration fee will be donated to the Alexandria, Va.-based ADA. The new club and the tours are advertised on the Web site, as well as advertised through a full page ad in the in-store circulars.