It may sound simple and even a little old-fashioned at this point, but e-newsletters can be just as important and productive as social media when it comes to reaching your particular customer base to tell them about your services, especially if those services involve something like the necessities of their diet.

Skogen’s Festival Foods in Wisconsin discovered this when their dietitians started up their heart-healthy and gluten-free newsletters, says Lauren Tulig, dietitian manager and Green Bay regional dietitian for the chain.

“Those go out to 4,000 of our guests each week,” she says, “and this is where we’re able to share specific recipes and products for those diets. It’s not really a one-size-fits-all approach anymore — we have a pretty good chunk of our guests that need to follow a heart-healthy diet, or maybe have Type II diabetes or are looking for ways to lower total cholesterol.”

While Skogen’s 25 locations have seen a pronounced increase in customers and customer loyalty, it’s not just small or suburban chains that can benefit from revamping or newly creating an e-newsletter or two. The practice has certainly worked well for Mariano’s in Chicago, a cutting-edge urban “grocerant” that was toured during the National Restaurant Association’s Foodservice at Retail day during their conference in June. ShopRite, a national chain that boasts 270 locations, also employs retail dietitians that send out newsletters for specific diets and specialty products.

Along with Skogen’s, these are three very different kinds of supermarket, but there’s one thing that these retailers all have in common that most don’t, and that’s retail dietitians and the tools they use to promote their services.  

“Our newsletters are my favorite thing that we work on, and it’s something that I really got to oversee when I started a few years ago,” says Amanda Puck, director of strategic brand development at cutting-edge grocerant Mariano’s in Chicago. “This is such a vital part of any business; in my 10 years doing PR for clients’ social media, I never focused on their e-newsletters. I always thought it was a separate thing that they would worry about or they would manage, but this is the most powerful tool that any of us have to promote our foodservice at retail. And the reason is super simple — it’s because people that sign up for your newsletters actually want to get and read them, and engage with things in your store.”

And newsletters don’t just bring more people through your doors for in-store events and sales, but also exposes them to products that may otherwise be overlooked by those who need them most.

“Our gluten-free newsletter is very popular,” Tulig says. “We have a large segment of guests who follow a gluten-free diet, so there we’re able to share some of our more specialized products that a lot of people are either unaware of or haven’t tried before. And everything we share is something we’ve tasted and tested ourselves, including the recipes and the products.”