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Nutrition labeling goes digital

BY CSA STAFF

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) on Wednesday launched an interactive web-based tool for consumers that supports the Facts Up Front nutrition labeling initiative launched by GMA and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in 2011.

With Facts Up Front, characterized by the trade group as the most significant reform of food and beverage labels in over 20 years, important information from the Nutrition Facts Panel on the back of food and beverage products are displayed in a simple and easy-to-use format on the front of products.

“Facts Up Front empowers consumers to make informed choices. It arms them with critical nutrition information about their favorite products,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the GMA. “But to make the most of Facts Up Front, Americans need to understand what that information means, and how it relates to their calorie and nutrient needs. Through this website, we are providing consumers with the knowledge and tools they need to build a healthful diet.”

The interactive website (www.factsupfront.org) features facts and interactive tools designed to educate and empower consumers, including:

A Nutrition Calculator – Helps people determine the specific calorie and nutrient needs for themselves and their family members.

An Interactive Label – Explains all the nutrients featured in Facts Up Front, how they impact your health and common nutrient sources.

A Nutrition Quiz – Allows nutrition novices and savvy shoppers alike identify opportunities to learn more about building a healthful diet.

Shopping and Meal Planning Tips – Provide advice from registered dietitians to help Americans overcome common obstacles to creating healthful meals.

Recipes – Offer easy, delicious dishes made with products bearing the Facts Up Front label.

In addition to these consumer resources, there is also a section of the website for health professionals, which provides downloadable tools and resources for educating consumers, patients and clients. For example, there’s a guide for registered dietitians to help them plan a supermarket tour and research underpinning the Facts Up Front program. A Spanish-language version of the site was also launched along with mobile versions of the sites to reach on-the-go consumers.

Facts Up Front labels highlight nutrition information – calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar per serving – in a clear, easy-to-understand format. The labels also provide consumers with valuable information about “nutrients to encourage,” the nutrients essential for a balanced diet, as well as those currently under-consumed by most Americans. The labeling program was developed in response to First Lady Michelle Obama’s call on the food and beverage industry to help consumers construct a healthy diet for themselves and their families.

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The Showrooming Effect: Leveraging the In-Store Experience

BY CSA STAFF

It seems everywhere you turn there is yet another headline questioning whether traditional retail stands on the brink of extinction due to the rise of showrooming. And it’s not hard to see how the practice of visiting a brick-and-mortar store to try out a product before ultimately purchasing it through an online merchant got its start. As humans, we have an innate need to see, hear, smell, feel and manipulate objects in our physical world. We are driven into brick-and-mortar stores by the desire to see the brightness of the screen and listen to the sound quality of a TV, smell the fragrance and feel the creaminess of a face lotion, and test the softness of a sweater against our skin.

So what then drives the over 40 percent of shoppers reported to engage in showrooming away from the physical store and onto the virtual sales floor? According to recent studies by Aprimo and Northwestern University, many leave because of poor customer service, lack of personalization and items that are a higher cost and lower value.

Retailers and CPGs have the opportunity to overcome all of these challenges by rethinking and reinventing the in-store experience.

Improving Customer Service

Retail is above all a service industry, and every associate—from the stock clerk to the cashier to the store manager—has a critical role to play in satisfying shoppers’ needs and expectations. Creating a culture centered on customer service is clearly a must for retailers. But it’s more than just implementing a policy. The first step comes in hiring associates who love what they do and who enjoy working with the public. With the right people in place, activities like welcoming shoppers into the store (warmly and in a way that goes beyond the superficial “welcome to X” greeting), asking if they need help and offering to walk them to the aisle that contains the item they’re trying to find will come naturally. Ongoing training, recognition and incentives (be they tangible or intangible) are often the key to creating this culture of service—and are a worthwhile investment given that good service is often rewarded with sales.

Personalizing the Shopping Experience

Though good service is an important factor in creating a positive shopping experience, it is not all that is required. Associates also need robust training on the products they sell. Unlike online reviews or static product descriptions, a well-trained associate can talk with shoppers one-on-one, answering questions and providing in-depth insight that directly combats the lack of information many shoppers have cited as a reason for turning to the web, as well as the one-size-fits-all approach served up by many online retailers.

Trained associates can also encourage shoppers to get hands-on with a product by engaging all five senses, as well as shoppers’ emotions. They also have the opportunity to show how the product can serve each shopper’s unique needs.

When a shopper shows interest, these associates can use the relationship they’ve begun to establish to directly ask for the sale, handing over a package or personally guiding the shopper to the shelf where the product can be found. All of these techniques deliver a shopping experience that makes the customer feel valued, which can be the difference between a finalized sale and yet another opportunity lost to the virtual retail world.

Providing Value

Addressing customer service and personalization issues by elevating the in-store experience is a natural fit. But what about cost concerns? Some retailers are starting to work with vendors and CPGs to change the in-store/online value dynamic by offering exclusive, upgraded versions of products. Shoppers are being enticed with special offers, such as a coffee maker bundled with a reusable filter that would normally cost double the difference in price between the base model available online and this exclusive in-store-only bundle.

But it’s not enough to simply put these products on the shelf—you also have to get customers to buy into the value-add concept. Associates or dedicated brand ambassadors (think a “KitchenAid® Specialist” or “Kellogg’s® Guru”) can be the answer. These product experts can highlight product attributes, making the differences and added value clear to shoppers, while also appealing to their emotions by making them feel like they’re getting something truly special and unique that’s only available in-store and not online.

The bottom line is that retailers and CPGs need to vary the lens through which they view their marketing efforts. In the past, getting shoppers into the store was often the primary focus. But the fact that showroomers are going to brick-and-mortar stores first and still leaving empty handed is evidence that simply getting shoppers in the door isn’t enough. It’s also proof that virtual retailers can’t satisfy shoppers’ every need. To overcome the showrooming phenomenon, retailers and CPGs must work to fill in the gaps left by online shopping and provide an in-store experience that shoppers value—both emotionally and financially.

Giovanni DeMeo is VP of global marketing and analytics at Interactions Marketing. Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., Interactions is the global leader in product demonstrations and event marketing for retailers and brands. For more, visit interactionsmarketing.com.

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Uniqlo looks to endear itself to New Yorkers

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Global clothing retailer Uniqlo will become the exclusive, multi-year corporate sponsor of the Museum of Modern Art’s Friday night free admission program, beginning in May.

The program provides free access to the museum and all exhibitions from 4 to 8 p.m., every Friday, throughout the year, a tremendous value considering the normal admission fee is $25.

The retailer’s sponsorship kicks off May 3, and is being called Uniqlo Free Friday Nights. That evening, the first 1,000 visitors will receive a Uniqlo tote bag. The museum also plans to extend its public schedule to seven days per week starting in May.

Uniqlo Free Friday Nights will provide increased accessibility to the museum’s exhibitions, collection and film programs for New Yorkers and visitors from around the world. Since the Free Friday Night Program launched in 2004, nearly 3 million visitors have enjoyed free admission to MoMA’s exhibitions, film screenings and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, making the museum one of New York’s favorite Friday night social scenes.

"Providing free museum admission year-round helps MoMA fulfill its mission of developing new audiences and making art accessible to a wider public," said MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry. "As a major corporate partner, Uniqlo plays an essential role in helping the museum bring the very best in modern and contemporary art to our diverse national and international audience."

By extending its motto of “clothes made for all” and bringing art to all every Friday, Uniqlo is certainly endearing itself to New Yorkers and tourists who rely on saving the steep admission fare to be able so they can enjoy a bit of art and culture.

Uniqlo is a brand of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd., a leading global Japanese retail holding company that designs, manufactures and sells clothing under seven main brands: Comptoir des Cotonniers, g.u., Helmut Lang, J Brand, Princesse tam.tam, Theory and Uniqlo. With global sales of approximately 928 billion yen for the 2012 fiscal year ending August 31, 2012, Fast Retailing is currently the world’s fourth largest apparel retail company, and Uniqlo is Japan’s leading specialty retailer.

Fast Retailing opened its first Uniqlo store in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1984. Since then, the company has become a global player with more than 1,100 stores in 13 markets worldwide including Japan, China, France, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, U.K. and U.S. It opened its global flagship store on Fifth Avenue at 53rd Street, on the same block as MoMa, October 2012.

"MoMA is my favorite museum in the world," said Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and CEO of Fast Retailing, Uniqlo’s parent company. "I am very pleased that we could open our Uniqlo flagship store on the same street as MoMA in New York City. It is an honor for us to be neighbors with MoMA on 53rd Street, such a prestigious and central location. I hope that together we can grow and deepen our relationships with the general public, and that the Uniqlo sponsorship can give even greater access to people from all around the world to visit such a leading international museum."

A multi-year partner with the museum, Uniqlo previously sponsored the MoMA exhibition Tokyo 1955–1970, A New Avant-Garde in 2012.

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