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Bi-Lo Coffee Stations Get a Makeover

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Many supermarkets strive to develop a distinct identity from their competitors. There are many ways to do this, but the reality is they are only as good as their parts. This is especially true in the case of health and wellness merchandising, which pulls from a wide spectrum of influences: natural, organic, sustainability, local, and so on.

How the retailer treats each “element” determines their overall success as a whole health destination. This includes not only straight-up merchandising, but product selection and placement, shopper education, shelf labeling, packaging and numerous other moving parts.

coffee_beans.jpgAnd that’s just the core area of the store. As a majority of supermarket operators adopts such strategies, the effort begins anew as each chain seeks out new ways of defining themselves.

The exercise can take retailers into areas that, in an earlier time, might not have been considered for an infusion of wellness and sustainability. Take in-store dry cleaners, for instance. Many now are adopting green technologies that cut down or eliminate the use of environmentally hazardous solvents and detergents like tetrachloroethylene, or perc.

Square footage that might have at one time held racks of videos or DVDs is now occupied by walk-in clinics or demonstration kitchens/classrooms, where staff dietitians lead health cooking classes; likewise, ceilings are now pierced by energy-efficient skylights and fixtures that conserve energy.

Even coffee stations are getting into the act. Bi-Lo, which operates 207 supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, is announcing it is partnering with Liquid Highway, a South Carolina-based coffee company known for handcrafted and micro-brewed coffee.

Both companies are based in South Carolina, so there’s the local angle. There’s also the community outreach aspect. Liquid Highway supports medical clinics, orphanages and schools in over 27 countries worldwide, donating post-tax profits to “help people around the world live a healthier and more fulfilling life,” according to a Bi-Lo statement. The supermarket chain itself reports donations of more than $52 million since 1983 throughout the company’s operating markets, with the fund coming from its BI-LO Charities arm.

Health and wellness takes many forms these days. It’s not just about individuals or ingredients, products or packaging. Retailers are long-time experts in marketing. Each time a whole health novelty gets co-opted by other operators, they display an impressive ability to uncover new ways of updating (and expanding) their whole health umbrella.

Now, Bi-Lo can take credit for helping to lead the rehabilitating the supermarket coffee kiosk.

[Photo credit: Mike Gorman]

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