Our kids are our future and they are the future of the natural product’s industry. We need to ensure that we don’t overlook them in our merchandising and marketing.

This country has a serious epidemic. Childhood obesity and related problems plague our youth. Strategies that teach kids about the importance of healthy food, healthy supplements, and healthy living will pay huge dividends for retailers well beyond tomorrow. That begins with consistently demonstrating to them that natural retailers can meet and exceed their needs. In other words, not give them a reason to shop your mainstream competitors.

Like it or not, one of the greatest successes of mainstream brands is their ability to market to kids—for example, kid’s cereals. Some large brands spend outrageous amounts marketing to kids, focusing primarily on their bottom line. They trade profits over a long term relationship with their shoppers. There is a lesson to be learned here. Knowing this can help you differentiate yourself and level the playing field. One of the greatest advantages natural retailers have is that they build long term relationships with their shoppers. This is what makes natural natural.

Related: Nutritious + Delicious = Happy, Healthy Kids! Generation GF: Helping Kids Be Kids

Natural brands and retailers who focus on teaching kids about nutrition and healthy options can convert occasional customers into loyal evangelists. This all begins with a robust merchandising strategy focused on educating kids and empowering them to take control of their health. The best part is that their enthusiasm can be contagious. I keep hearing stories about how these children then encourage their parents to also adopt healthy eating habits.

The following tips will help you maximize this strategy.

Consider the shopper journey. In this case, focus on making it easy for kids to play a bigger role in shopping. Kids love to help, they need to feel important, and they want to be included in family meal prep. More importantly, they are more likely to eat the foods they choose themselves. Make it easy for them to learn about nutrition. For example, merchandise products around meal solutions so that they can easily choose the right ingredients to help with meal prep.

Help guide young shoppers to make healthy choices by merchandising kid- friendly products together, for example snacks to include in their school lunches.

A big part of building trust and gaining loyal shoppers includes exceptional customer service. It’s never too early to begin cultivating new shoppers.