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Education Is Still the Key

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During a recent program at the Dole Research Institute in Kannapolis, N.C., a speaker from the North Carolina Community Colleges’ BioNetwork spoke about the importance of bee pollination and the health value of “pure” honey. But, it was the question-and-answer segment that grocery retailers would have found interesting.

honey_honey.jpgAn attendee asked what she should look for when purchasing honey from (naming a local grocery store). The speaker said she shouldn’t purchase honey there, if she wanted all of its benefits. Why? Because the store’s product was pasteurized, eliminating some of the honey’s health benefits. Seeking an easy solution, the woman repeated the question (again, identifying the supermarket). The speaker responded by emphasizing the honey should be purchased from a local beekeeper and not from the retailer.

Whether or not you should carry “unpasteurized” honey isn’t the issue. Instead, the question is: “Am I communicating with customers and, more importantly, opinion leaders about my natural food offering?”

To position your supermarket as a convenient place where customers can find organic and healthy foods, you can’t rely solely on the same marketing techniques as you do when selling soda or hamburger. Why? Because as consumers consider healthy food purchases, many seek information. And, these customers will place more weight on opinion leader recommendations than on your in-store signage or weekly ad.

To be recommended by influencers, you must first educate them on the natural alternatives you provide and your commitment to this category, even seeking their input on products. By targeting these opinion leaders in your communication plan, you will familiarize this critical audience with your efforts while strengthening your reputation as “the place to shop” for quality natural and organic products. Such an image leads to word-of-mouth referrals, positive press, a growing consumer base and, ultimately, improved category sales.

[Photo credit: Nick Perla]

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