How can retailers best introduce nutrition rating guides to shoppers? How much will implementation cost?
These are among the top concerns as retailers weigh the benefits of using Hannaford Bros.' Guiding Stars or the Overall Nutritional Quality Index offered by Topco Associates.
“As you can imagine, this is a significant undertaking, as it represents a new business for us,” said Caren Epstein, director of external communications for Hannaford Bros., Scarborough, Maine. “To that end, we've got a team of people working out the details. Before we meet with prospective partners, we want to make sure we've considered all of the variables so that we can create a positive experience.”
Both Guiding Stars and ONQI are being licensed to any and all retailers, regardless of affiliation, size or location. Officials at Topco, Skokie, Ill., say they're preparing a comprehensive marketing and communication book for licensees to use. Stater Bros. Markets, San Bernardino, Calif., will rely on its in-house dietitian, Melissa Hooper, to be the point person to assist shoppers, according to Dennis McIntyre, executive vice president of marketing at the 164-store chain.
“We're doing some of that work right now, to get the message and communications lined up,” he said. “But mostly it will happen with our current vehicles, like weekly ads, radio, shelf talkers and theater signs. Any way we communicate with our customers now would be used.”
Hy-Vee Stores, based in Des Moines, Iowa, employs more than 100 dietitians throughout the chain and is preparing to implement ONQI by the end of summer.
“There will be some [information technology] expense in determining the way we process the labels and maintaining the file, as well as accurate information at the shelf,” said Ric Jurgens, the chain's president and CEO. “I don't anticipate it being a great deal more than what we're spending on shelf tags already.”