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[13 comments]

Grocery store with gym shapes healthy results

May 28, 2014

While some question just how dedicated food, drug and mass retailers are to helping their customers live healthier lives, there is one store where the commitment can be measured in lost pounds and increased sales.

The Hannaford supermarket in Albany, NY has a 5,600-square-foot gym that includes cardio equipment and a room for exercise classes. Best of all, it is available to customers for free.

The facility opened last October after a meeting between the chain, the local Y and the Capital District Physicians' Health Plan (CDPHP). The store had extra space after a remodel and offered it up as part of a plan to tackle obesity and diabetes in the local community.

The center has an associate from CDPHP on hand to register members and answer questions, a personal trainer from the Y to help with exercise plans and a dietician from Hannaford to offer nutritional advice.

According to an Associated Press report, over 1,100 people have signed up for the gym to date.

Store manager Dave Farrell, who claims he has lost nearly 90 pounds in the last year, said the gym has been good for business. "We've had people use it who weren't customers and have decided to shop in the store," he told the AP. "It's definitely a win for us, but that wasn't the goal.

According to a report on the Glamour website, the San Francisco International Airport has installed a yoga room for airline passengers.

Despite the apparent success of Hannaford's store/gym concept, the company is not planning another like it.

FINANCIALS:     [NYSE:DEG] [ ]

Discussion Questions:

What is your reaction to the Hannaford grocery/gym story? Do you think this type of concept has potential from a business standpoint?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

Are food, drug and mass retailers more talk or walk when it comes to helping their customers live healthier lives?

Comments:

I think this is a great idea! One, it will likely increase trips per week to the store and/or gym; two, healthy focused customers are more likely to purchase healthy produce and other organic foods which may be higher margin.

The concept isn't new; many retailers offer free "classes" or shared spaces to drive sales, e.g. Home Depot with "how to tile" or fabric stores teaching you new sewing stitches. Each are hoping to get you to buy the supplies for the project from them.

Depending on the rent cost and GM/square foot they need to generate from the incremental shopping trips/customers, it may be a profitable practice.

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Robert DiPietro, GVP Product Strategy & Business Development, Affinion Group

"We've had people use it who weren't customers and have decided to shop in the store," he told the AP. "It's definitely a win for us, but that wasn't the goal."

Come on...of course it is the goal.

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Gene Detroyer, Professor, Independent

Great publicity at low cost. The space was available and not being utilized. The YMCA in conjunction with CDPHP is operating the facility. Hannaford provides the dietician.

Nothing in the stories indicate who is bearing what costs. Not something that I expect to see replicated at additional supermarkets sites.

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Steve Montgomery, President, b2b Solutions, LLC

As Dr. Nido Qubein of High Point University calls it - that is "intentional congruence." A creative idea. Based on sustainable values. Aligned with its environment. Economically able to hold it's own or more. Makes the world a better place for than a thousand people.

Sounds like a winning formula to me. Congrats.

Now the Execs want us to know that this won't spread. Just doesn't fit old engrained mindsets. I suggest the reason for that is they see this from a Newtonian perspective, considering it an objective and mechanistic thing. I'm sure the cost is being weighed against a new freezer as though it's in the same category. Seems to me this is an "energetic" addition to the store, adding something wonderful you can't quite fit into traditional paradigms. There are infinite possibilities out there for all of us, we need only to learn how to see them.

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Ian Percy, President, The Ian Percy Corporation

This looks like a perfect storm kind of situation that does not come about often. Here we have a store with some extra space, a YMCA that wants further exposure in the market, and a health group looking for greater community involvement. A win win for everyone. But how often will this happen in a community?

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Mel Kleiman, President, Humetrics

This is what happens when the store is too large. The question becomes what to put in the space. Most gyms are located in lower rent areas, not prime retail space. I see shrinking of the display space required and thus freeing up space in supermarkets.

There are a number of alternatives that are more food related than a gym. Restaurants, cooking schools and prep centers are ones I would consider before a gym.

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W. Frank Dell II, CMC, President, Dellmart & Company

The idea is fantastic and it should not be a surprise that results are good. With most people paying $300 or more per annum to join a gym, this is a tremendous value and I would hope that customers who enjoy the gym would also give an increased share of their grocery shop to Hannaford's.

The instance of including a gym connected to a grocery seems to be purely opportunistic on the part of the chain and so it also not a surprise that there are no plans to open another facility.

Grocers can contribute on a more consistent basis to the health of their customers by merchandising healthier products and not partaking in the label-game with food suppliers. Transparency in sharing nutritional information should be rewarded.

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Bill Hanifin, Managing Director, Hanifin Loyalty LLC

Gene's comment causes me to add another response. (Thanks Gene) His point is "of course the idea was make this a financial winner." He's absolutely right!

My goodness, if we're not trapped by Newton, we're trapped by Calvin. Why are we afraid to blend higher purpose where we're doing good for folks...and raising our prosperity? This is not dualistic zero-sum game. Trust me I know this Calvanistic stuff...where you decide EITHER to serve God, do good and be dirt poor - OR - you become a money-grubbing capitalistic pig who doesn't care how they make their money.

It's taken me a lot of years to get past this false choice. We like to talk theoretically about "doing well by doing good" but it really hasn't caught on.

To store manager Dave Farrell: "Dave, you are looking good these days; you're helping your community and increasing the prosperity of the store. It's ALL good. God bless you richly!"

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Ian Percy, President, The Ian Percy Corporation

I think anything that gets consumers into stores is a good idea for stores - particularly the grocery outlets that continue to battle with online grocery shopping. This could also be good for drug stores, with their focus on wellness - do a 1/2 hour work out before or after shopping. I think we will definitely see more of this.

Donna Brockway, President, FutureRetail

Great idea. Why not have a gym as a secondary location for a place where consumers shop? Everything else, including cooking classes, wine tasting, and apparel seems to be included with grocery shopping. Even the article notes that the test was a success. It has increased appeal to many "non shoppers" who wouldn't regularly go to the grocery store, while increasing the take away for those who do.

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Kai Clarke, President, Kowa Optimed, Inc.

"Despite the apparent success of Hannaford's store/gym concept, the company is not planning another like it."

Potential? Apparently not. And although it's nice that Hannaford found a use for its extra space, I think it's the extra space element of the story more than the gym per se that's important: "what to do with it?" is going to be more and more of a question as America's overbuilt retail acreage goes on its own diet.

'notcom'

Brilliant. Tying it in with distribution of healthy eating information and it has great potential!

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Jerry Gelsomino, Principal, FutureBest

Personally, I love any idea that leads to greater nutrition and fitness. That said, I think this will work best when it is on brand, as in the fitness area is adjoined to a supermarket that is know for healthy and wholesome foods, and eschews money-making but unhealthy foods (e.g. cakes, candies, etc.).

In the case of Hannaford's in particular, I found this line curious: "Despite the apparent success of Hannaford's store/gym concept, the company is not planning another like it." If it is (financially) successful, and serves a good purpose, why wouldn't they replicate it?

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Alexander Rink, CEO, 360pi

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