The Exchange continues fueling the BE FIT program to help Warfighters and their families attain healthier lifestyles. BE FIT is a holistic approach to healthier living with fitness products and better-for-you food options to keep our Nation’s fighting force ready and resilient.
Customers are responding to the BE FIT intensification. Through the second quarter, sales for BE FIT products have increased over the same period last year. Exchange restaurants, too, have contributed to the BE FIT effort.
Supporting troop readiness, resiliency
Highlights for 2018 through July 31 include:
- Softlines BE FIT sales increasing 5 percent from prior year to $91 million.
- A 7 percent increase of smart watches, fitness trackers and other exercise equipment in Hardlines, for sales of nearly $71 million.
- A 10 percent increase in BE FIT Consumables sales in main stores and Expresses to $36 million.
- Opening more than 20 restaurants, all with better-for-you options.
“The Exchange makes it part of our mission to support troops’ readiness and resiliency through a BE FIT lifestyle,” said President and Chief Merchandising Officer Ana Middleton. “Through our long-term BE FIT initiative, we are committed to providing the fitness information, nutrition tips, equipment and better-for-you dining and snack options Warfighters and their families need to meet their health goals.
“Our BE FIT initiatives also helps us develop lifelong emotional connections with our customers.”
A corporate strategic priority
Intensifying the holistic BE FIT program is one of the Exchange’s seven strategic priorities for 2018 to reaffirm the organization’s commitment to troop readiness and resiliency.
BE FIT initiatives through the second quarter include:
- A revamped BE FIT page on ShopMyExchange.com.
- New Healthier Choices shelf tags to promote meals and snacks that meet the BE FIT program’s calorie, sodium and fat requirements.
- Partnering with commissaries for Healthy Lifestyle Festivals and other wellness events.
- A social media campaign to post and share BE FIT content.
Linking with communities
ShopMyExchange.com’s Community Hub links visitors directly to BE FIT content with healthy recipes and fitness tips. The page also includes BE FIT influencers who share their personal stories about leading fit lifestyles. One of them is Roy Montez, the Exchange’s new BE FIT marketing manager who works to promote the program across communication channels.
Sgt. Maj. Edward Bell and his wife, Lisa, continue to serve as the Exchange’s BE FIT spokescouple, sharing their personal best practices via videos for smart shopping at the commissaries, keeping kids active on a military installation and more.
Changing consumer lifestyles
The brick-and-mortar stores are seeing plenty of BE FIT action, too. Since 2014, the Exchange has opened more than 60 BE FIT concept shops in the main stores. A smaller BE FIT shop opened at Tyndall AFB, Fla., and two are expected to open in October at Dover AFB, Del., and Fort Myer, Va.
“Our consumer’s lifestyle is changing and casual attitude toward wearing athleisure clothing to a work places, school or social occasions has become a norm rather than an exception,” said Mark Dickman, division merchandising manager. “Staying abreast of industry trend, expanding BE FIT concepts into new locations and introducing new brands and products have been the underlying growth strategies for 2018.”
Footwear sales up 5 percent
Sales of athletic footwear hit nearly $41 million since the first of the fiscal year, a nearly 5 percent increase, and with Nike, Under Armour and Adidas leading the pack. Other brands, such as Asics, New Balance, Brooks, Saucony, Salomon, Skechers, Merrell, Mizuno and Hoka are complementing the core brands, Dickman said.
“We are also experiencing additional volume on ShopMyExchange.com after the launch of the Veterans online shopping benefit, so we’ve fortified quantities and sizing to accommodate extra business,” he said.
Soldiers and Airmen also are upgrading their technology. Sales of smart watches and fitness trackers rose 36 percent to $14 million through the second quarter. Samsung and Garmin premium watches, which retail for $344 to $649 each, are taking the lead.
Lots of bananas
In the Consumables, the number of BE FIT products rose from 397 to more than 430 since the first of the year. Customers have scooped up nearly 1.8 million 1-gallon bottles of Nestle Pure Life water, peeled 1 million bananas and gulped 1 million 1-liter bottles of Glaceau Smart Water—the top three most popular products.
As far as food courts go, the burger segment makes up 43 percent of the commercial market, but only 28 percent of the Exchange’s meal business because of the organization’s expansion into healthier options.
Since February, the Exchange has opened 22 name-brand restaurants, eight of them—four Qdoba Mexican Eats, one Sarku, one Subway and two Panda Expresses—geared toward healthier options. Qdoba Mexican Eats recently opened this one at Virginia’s Fort Lee. Three already opened at Fort Meade, Fort Benning and Fort Stewart.
Partners with Army, Air Force
Through its restaurants, the Exchange also is a major partner in the Healthy Army Community and Air Force Smart Fueling initiatives under the Office of the Secretary of Defense that seeks to keep and build healthier lifestyles among Soldiers and Airmen.
“We’ve made healthy national name-brand transitions in the restaurants, expanded our healthy vending initiatives and highlighted better-for-you options at our name-brand fast-food restaurants,” said Trini Saucedo, senior vice president of the Services, Food & Fuel Directorate. “The Exchange mission for 123 years has been to care for this Nation’s Warfighters. They depend on the Exchange to help them to take care of their health so they can stay resilient for us. ”
HISTORY FUN FACT:
The year the Exchange began Operation: BE FIT, now simply known as BE FIT and far more expansive.