Healthy Rewards: How Grocers Are Helping Customers Make Better Decisions about Their Nutrition

Every supermarket knows that they have far more control over the buying choices of their customers than the vast majority of people would like to admit. Whether it’s product placement, price deals or store layout, much of what we buy is influenced by what our favourite supermarket wants us to pick up and take home.

In the US, research found that 60 per cent of food purchasing decisions are unplanned and made on the shop floor. A similar number, however, are desperately looking for ways to improve the health and balance of the foods they purchase. It makes sense then that supermarkets listen to their customers and start driving loyalty by helping people make healthier choices.

Supermarkets Leading the Way

Both Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the UK are already thinking about the best way to support their customers in their quests to get healthy. The data and insights that they have at their fingertips through their Nectar and Clubcard schemes are central to this. They can see exactly what people buy and when, and how much consumer behaviour is impacted by store incentives. This has been behind much of the supermarkets’ stock and sales strategies for years.

Tesco is leading the way by giving customer baskets a health rating using algorithms to calculate the types of foods they tend to buy. Once there’s a clear understanding of what’s in their trolley, Tesco is able to make tailored healthy swap suggestions to support customers in changing their habits.

Sainsbury’s are trying a slightly different approach by incentivising healthy choices by making Nectar points more valuable when purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables. They’ve launched this alongside a tracker app that customers can download and use to support better choices. They also ran their ‘The Great Big Fruit and Veg Challenge’ last month, which created personalised targets for their Nectar card members and rewarded them for hitting targets and picking healthy and nutritious options.

A World of Healthy Innovation

It’s not just supermarkets themselves getting in on the healthy eating agenda, the Whole Nutrition App is ‘a mobile application idea rewarding loyal grocery shoppers with a visual nutrition library of their food choices’. The app allows people to connect their favourite supermarket loyalty card, along with their BMI to track and record their healthy eating choices. The app will show consumers how balanced their basket was according to calories, nutrients or even personalised goals.

Protecting Vulnerable Consumers

Consumers with allergies or intolerances can also benefit from these interventions by making it easy to understand what foods contain what ingredients. These are a highly loyal customer base, as once they find a brand they can trust, they tend to keep buying that same product.

“Since food safety is vitally important to allergen-avoidant consumers, about two-thirds are loyal to certain products that they trust.” (McKinsey, 2020)

By understanding the choices customers make, there’s huge potential to make targeted and tailored recommendations that will help them live healthier lives. The data that supermarkets hold about us is the key to unlock this potential.