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Retail marketing that drives education and trust

Spotlighting key trends and solutions improves a retailer’s chances of building shopper engagement and loyalty.
lightbulb of ideas
lightbulb of ideas

Marketing is a complex topic in retail. Amid this inflationary environment, many drug store and food store shoppers just want to hear about a price cut or a BOGO. 

But marketing isn’t just about relaying price promotions. What often catches my attention is marketing that educates about trends and solutions and helps to drive trust in a retailer and its products. A number of retailers emphasized this approach during the holidays and around the new year. They educated customers about new directions and often identified products that fell into those trends. This type of marketing is platform-agnostic because the messaging can be pushed out through blogs, social media, print circulars and other outlets. Here are a few good examples: 

Walgreens Spotlights Wellness 
In forecasting 10 health and wellness trends for 2023, Walgreens underscored that it aims to help customers and patients “pursue joyful, healthy lives.” It did the homework for shoppers by studying both internal and external market data to develop its forecasts. The retailer relayed trends such as relieving mental stress, keeping immune systems boosted and embracing sustainable products. Just as important, it positioned its own brand commercialization managers as experts who drive innovation and value. Walgreens sprinkled its content with links to products that support the key trends, such as bamboo toothbrushes that tie into “sustainable products.” 

Kroger Profiles Meal Planning 
Kroger produced a 2023 outlook piece that predicted key food trends, with an emphasis on cooking and eating-at-home habits and celebrations with friends and family. The retailer emphasized foods and flavors that can please a wide range of cohorts, from grandparents to Gen Z; strategies that make the work of hosts easier; approaches to making meals special; and food and flavors that celebrate heritages. Customers were offered examples of products that tie into each trend, such as a Private Selection Hass Avocado Ranch Dip that makes the preparation easier on hosts. 

Whole Foods Puts Trends in Context 
Whole Foods offered 2023 food trend predictions called “The Next Big Things,” which were filled with details to put each trend into context. In describing the emerging trend called “New Brew: Yaupon,” it explained that yaupon is North America’s only known native caffeinated plant and was used by Indigenous Americans for brewing tea. Providing deeper stories about trends adds credibility and appeal. Other trends highlighted include Pulp with Purpose; The Great Date; and Only the Finest for Fido. Whole Foods even offered an option for customers to purchase a “trends box” featuring 10 items, each of which reflect one of its trends. 

Wegmans Lets Employees Shine 
Associates are the faces of retail to customers, so why not make them part of retail marketing? That’s exactly the approach taken by Wegmans as it spotlighted “Feel Your Best” healthy strategies for the holidays. Associates explained how they use healthy eating habits that include Be Mindful, Stock for Success (have healthy foods on hand) and Eat Plant Foods. One associate discussing Be Mindful said, “utilizing the concepts learned directly from our Wegmans Nutrition team, I have been able to maintain my desired weight.” 

Succeeding With Education and Trust 
I applaud the sophisticated marketing efforts of the retailers cited above. These examples centered on the holidays and the new year, but retail marketing can drive education and trust all year long. In fact, that is by far the best way to build and maintain ongoing engagement with customers.

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