Supermarket Wellness Watch: ‘Almost-fake’ news tests retailers on health
We’ve heard a lot lately about fake news. Much of the talk is about false and deceptive stories invading the Internet and other platforms.
There’s another phenomenon that I call “almost-fake,” which also relates to news and information, specifically about health. In many ways it’s even more challenging, especially for health practitioners and retailers.
I define almost-fake as health information that isn’t based on science.
It draws a big following among consumers, especially younger ones who are defining health in nontraditional ways and looking to new sources for information, including social media. The sources may be well meaning, and the facts may even turn out to be credible, but much of it is questionable and impossible to validate.
All of this worries health professionals such as supermarket dietitians, who need to determine how best to guide consumers. This topic was addressed recently by speakers at The NGA Show in Las Vegas, an annual convention for independent grocers produced by the National Grocers Association.
Two consultants with considerable experience as retail dietitians painted a picture of the new landscape.
For retail health professionals the stakes are high. “This is about how you’ll strategize around health and wellness in the future,” said Annette Maggi, president of Annette Maggi & Associates, a speaker at the NGA event.
“One of the challenges I see in this new definition of health and wellness is where is the scientific evidence?” she continued. “We’re living in an environment now with fake news and alternate facts, and this is one that definitely impacts the health and wellness arena.”
She pointed to ‘clean label’ as a good example. “Many consumers are saying they want fewer ingredients,” she began. “The reality is there isn’t much science behind many of those changes being made.”
What is her solution to this dilemma? “You need to be responsible in how you message it, because consumers expect that. Retailers have a unique role in consumer education because consumers see them as a filter of information. That authenticity and accuracy really matters.”
Shari Steinbach, president of Shari Steinbach & Associates, another NGA Show speaker, said that “fake news and fear mongering” has added a new dimension to the roles of health professionals.
“As a retail dietitian over the last few years, I’ve spent time debunking Internet stories about what’s bad for you.”
The trick is to tread very carefully in communicating information, she emphasized.
“We look at science as dietitians, but consumers don’t want science shoved down their throats. Consumers have beliefs, and we need to meet them where they are, and provide them information about choices with science-based resources. I want to help them shop our stores, not turn them away by saying what they believe is false.”
These are big challenges for retail health professionals, but many are learning to navigate this path. A smart approach is to use a bit of psychology in interactions with consumers. Tell them the truth without making them feel dumb or wrong. Getting that balance right will produce big wins for retailers and their health teams.
David Orgel is an award-winning business journalist, industry expert and speaker who was the longtime chief editor and content leader of Supermarket News. He is currently the principal of David Orgel Consulting, delivering strategic content and counsel to the food, retail and CPG industries. To read last month’s blog post, click here.
Publix pharmacy signs exclusive contract with BayCare Health
LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix pharmacy and BayCare Health System signed an exclusive contract whereby BayCare branded telehealth sites will appear in various Publix locations, BayCare screening stations will be in all Publix locations, and Publix pharmacies onsite will be at five BayCare hospital locations.
“This is a very exciting collaboration for both Publix and BayCare,” Publix VP pharmacy operations Fred Ottolino said. “Through this agreement, we will not only be able to provide BayCare medical expertise to Publix customers seeking non-urgent medical care, but we will also be able to bring Publix’s premier service to BayCare’s patients.”
The agreement makes BayCare Publix’s exclusive health care and telehealth collaborator within the Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties in Florida. The collaboration will also enable BayCare patients to test their blood pressure and perform other screenings at higi in-store health and wellness kiosks and send their screening results directly to their BayCare physician at no extra fee.
“BayCare is extremely pleased to enter into this agreement with Publix because we share the core value of excellence,” said Glenn Waters, EVP and COO, BayCare Health System. “This collaboration between medical care and pharmacy also furthers the long-time BayCare commitment to connect the many different aspects of health care in an efficient manner that improves both patient health and the care experience. We are very focused on helping individuals access the right level of care in the right place and this collaboration does just that.”
Publix and BayCare have committed to finalize the details of the collaboration by the end of the year but anticipate that all of the components could be completed within the next four months.
BayCare is a not-for-profit health care system that connects individuals and families to a wide range of services at 14 hospitals and hundreds of other convenient locations throughout the Tampa Bay and central Florida regions.