PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway encouraged shoppers to feed their hearts' desire last month as part of its Love Your Heart program.
The in-store events, held in almost 1,200 locations across the country, featured free blood pressure, body mass index and cholesterol screenings for up to 35 customers. The events were sponsored by marketers of “heart-healthy” foods, including Kellogg's, Campbell's, StarKist Tuna and Fresh Express.
Upon completion of the tests, participants received an informational brochure featuring coupons for Kellogg's Smart Start cereal; StarKist tuna pouches; V8's Fusion Juices; Campbell's Healthy Request soups; and salad greens from Fresh Express. The booklet advised consumers as to how each of the products contributes to heart health.
“Kellogg's Smart Start Healthy Heart cereals are low in sodium and a great way to start the day,” read one section. “They contain oat bran for fiber and potassium, which may help lower both blood pressure and cholesterol when combined with a diet low in saturated fat.”
Consumers whose results showed they were at high risk for heart problems were told that they should see a doctor.
OnSite Wellness, Torrance, Calif., hosted the events in Safeway's stores. This year marked the third year of its partnership with the retailer.
The Love Your Heart program comes at a time when rising insurance costs have consumers turning to their local retailers for advice on how to meet their nutritional needs. Marketers are also targeting shoppers through in-store events as television becomes a less viable method of building brand awareness.
Through shelf-level signage and on-package claims, grocers and suppliers are also increasingly promoting the functional benefits of foods. Their efforts are expected to become more targeted in the future.
A recent Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council study projects that by 2018, prescription labels may include a list of foods and food combinations that can provide relief for the specific condition that's being treated.
Frank Dell, president and chief executive officer of Dellmart & Co., said that events like the ones hosted at Safeway stores won't necessarily lead to a spike it sales, but they may encourage product trial, especially among Baby Boomers.
Despite the events being sponsored by the CPG companies, none of these products were featured prominently during the Love Your Heart events.
“I'd have set up a table with displays,” Dell said.
StarKist tied its sponsorship of the event to its cause marketing efforts.
“We are donating 10 cents to the Go Red for Women movement for every pouch of Starkist tuna sold [up to $350,000], and our partnership with Safeway provides a great platform to communicate this message to consumers,” said Geoff Tanner, StarKist's senior brand manager. “The initiative is a terrific way to communicate the tremendous heart health benefits of StarKist tuna to consumers.”
Heart disease is the No. 1killer of both men and women in the U.S., and consumers are looking for help to manage their risk, added Tanner.
This year's Love Your Heart initiative was by far the largest in terms of participating stores, said Sang Kim, the owner of OnSite Wellness.
BMI testing was a new addition to this year's Love Your Heart events. There are other tests that could be incorporated into future events, said Sang, such as breaking down the cholesterol report to show HDL and LDL cholesterol.