Supermarkets catering to kids is not a new concept. Many stores have kid carts, free balloons, and free cookies to keep mom and dad’s small companions entertained as they shop. As a parent of two small children, I appreciate all the measures supermarkets take to keep my kids occupied. While the “free cookie” can be the highlight of the shopping trip for kids, many parents may bypass the bakery to prevent kids from eating the sugary snack. With childhood obesity rates soaring in this country, is it time to rethink the “free cookie”?
Meijer, a grocery chain based out of Michigan with over 190 stores, has taken their smallest consumers’ grocery shopping experience to a new level. Instead of distracting kids from grocery shopping with mom and dad, they are engaging them and encouraging their own grocery shopping experience with their very own produce cart. According to Brian Coates, a produce buyer at Meijer, they were inspired 7 years ago to create a kids area in one of their newly remodeled flagship stores. They created a kid’s produce cart to educate and promote healthier snacking to their smallest shoppers. These carts contain fresh fruit, like bananas, oranges, apples, clemetines, or plums. Their little customers are encouraged to donate $.25 when they pick their juicy piece of fruit which goes straight to the Children’s Miracle Network. Currently, Meijer has these carts in 35-40 stores and will be adding more in new stores and remodeled stores.
From a customer loyalty perspective, this program is a genius way to gain loyal moms, dads, and kids by creating a shopping experience for the entire family. The real litmus test for success is how parents react to Meijer’s produce cart for kids. According to Meijer’s Corporate Dietitian and Healthy Living Manager, Shari Steinbach, “Moms love to stop at the “produce stand” and get a healthy snack for their children to enjoy while they shop at Meijer. The stand is also a very visible way to show how Meijer supports our Healthy Living program – providing simple solutions to live healthier!”
Meijer’s objective to educate and promote healthy snacking with fresh produce carts for kids sets a new standard in the industry to move beyond the “free cookie” and play a part in the health of their customers’ lives. What do you think about supermarkets offering more than just free fruit but a shopping experience for kids? Do you think more supermarkets should follow in Meijer’s footsteps or do you know of some who all ready are doing something similiar?