If you are in the business of selling healthy food and beverages, it is of essence for your employees to understand basic nutrition, especially product-linked nutrition. Basic nutrition knowledge will help them appreciate health food benefits; create appropriate claims and communication messages for consumer engagement; and define effective health food marketing strategies. The sales teams will also benefit, as they will have the tools for a knowledgeable product-linked customer conversation. More importantly, multiple cross functional teams will also be able to effectively engage consumers online and onsite, and this is likely to beef up the health food marketing agenda.
Following are 3 essential steps that can help you build right nutrition capability, to support effective health food marketing:
Step 1: Start with a nutrition workshop
Get your nutrition experts and cross functional teams, to organize a 2-full day workshop for your employees. Why full day? Because it is easier to get employees to commit to 2 days, of undivided time. Also, make it mandatory, because even after signing up, work usually takes precedence over learning in today’s time-starved world.
For an effective workshop:
Personalize basic nutrition roll out:
for example, link information to participant nutrient and dietary deficiencies; or get them assess food in their pantries. Ask participants to list down food in their pantries, and the benefit they get from each food. With this exercise, you will encourage participants to pay close attention to and label everything they eat with a benefit. With this exercise, you will encourage participants to pay close attention to everything they eat. And every time they pick up a food in future, it is likely that the dialogue in their head will be ‘what does this product do for me?, 'What is the product benefit?', 'What is the claim on pack?".
For example, you could get participants to come up with health food product ideas. They could brain-storm their ideas in smaller groups and come up with 2 winning ideas per group. The group could then share their ideas with all participants. This again helps with message retention, as you not only force them to look at what they have learned on day 1 to identify their ideas first; but you also get them to explain their ideas to a group and then brainstorm the pros and cons to come up with 2 product wins per group. This will help them understand how best to leverage the knowledge they gained through the workshop.
Or you could ask them how they plan to use nutrient and dietary deficiency data for claims and communication messages. For e.g., '60% of the population is deficient in dietary fibre', and 'this fibre-rich bar provides 25% of your daily fibre needs' are powerful product linked claims.
Share nutrition science and product-linked success stories:
For example, how nutrition science was used to identify target consumers, or effectively communicate with them. For e.g., a story about a product with the right balance of vitamins and minerals for bone health development and maintenance; and how they reached out to 20 plus year-old, who could still build bones. Or a story of a high protein milk, that targeted 50-plus year-old, as they tend to lose muscle mass with age. Real stories, will definitely get participant attention, and increase information retention.
Step 2: Reinforce key messages through the year & encourage employees to rethink their health food marketing strategy
This is where organizations get lost, as employees are time starved. So eblasts, newsletters, additional workshops over the course of the year won’t work!
So, what should you do?
1) Take the message to employees in places where they are most likely to see them
For e.g., office rest room and pantry entry and exit doors; table tent cards on pantry tables; screen savers on computers and TV screens in the canteen. Screen savers, table tent cards and posters in the pantry with one key message per week – work like magic. It is very likely, that employees will read these messages every day for 5 days. And what’s more powerful, is the debate that ensues with colleagues after the message has been read. This dialogue increases message retention. Also, many employees are likely to share this message with their employees at home. So you actually start a powerful word of mouth campaign.
2). Remember ‘less is more’ that is, don’t try to bombard your employees with too many messages.
Identify ten key messages for the year and keep reminding employees about the messages.
3). Personalize the message for your employees at all times.
Make it about them, and their needs, for e.g., a message about how to help keep their children nourished through the difficult exam period, will definitely resonate with them! 4). Through the messages, also provide examples of how other organizations have used nutrition science, to roll out effective health food marketing strategies. This will encourage your employees to rethink their health food marketing strategies.
Step 3: Evaluate the nutrition program & changes in health food marketing strategies.
Build in evaluation of the program into your education strategy. Quantitative measures include: nos. of participants at a workshop; nos. of table tents and message posters placed; nos. of work-sites and employees reached. These numbers shed light on outreach volume; and help an organization understand whether all key employees were included. Qualitative measures can help you understand extent of message exposure, understanding and action. For this, a pre-survey of employee knowledge is important prior to the start of the program and workshop; and also after the workshop and at the end of the year.
To assess action, the end of the year survey could include questions about examples of how the program helped change their lives and product purchases; and the health food marketing strategy. Change in the health food marketing strategy, is especially important to show business impact of the nutrition capability program. Also, ask for information about ‘how the program could have been improved – what worked and what didn’t?’
If you really want to build employee nutrition capability to support effective health food marketing and selling, it needs commitment that goes beyond a one big workshop. You will have to think about how to effectively remind your employees about key messages through the course of the year. And don't forget evaluation. Evaluation results will not only help you assess program success, but it will also support future planning. Review evaluation results, list down what's working well and what isn't and then plan future programs