Reward shoppers who want to eat healthier

April 06, 2011

Supermarkets aligned with shoppers's better-for-you motives can benefit in clear case of 'less is more'

Healthy eating gets a lot of lip service from shoppers, who don’t always practice what they preach. Look inside their carts to sometimes find candy, baked treats, sugary cereals and more. The busted shoppers might claim the items are for someone else.

That might be true. Or maybe the answer is just as simple as no one is perfect all the time.

Perhaps supermarkets could motivate would-be healthy eaters more with incentives that save shoppers money, time, stress and guilt over buying a non-necessity. Clearly an uplift for shoppers, the idea might seem counter-intuitive to retailers whose every instinct tells them it’s good to sell more of everything.

Well, consider this. The Lempert Report says food stores would improve their relationships with shoppers by showing they care about them.  Caring matters a lot to American adults, according to the National Grocers Association-SupermarketGuru Consumer Survey Report released earlier in 2011.

By incentivizing shoppers to focus more on healthy foods, retailers would: align with households’ current push to safeguard budgets by primarily buying necessities; help lessen kids’ sugar rushes at home and whining on the store visit; speed checkouts and shift temptation in the checklane to displays of good-for-you snacks such as dried fruits, string cheese, granola bars, yogurt, bottled waters and similar items.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Hy-Vee has just achieved this with a Blue Zones checklane in one store – and grew sales of displayed items in that lane by 42%, reported the Albert Lea Tribune.

Inspired by this action, The Lempert Report thought of other rewards that people who buy healthier foods might appreciate receiving from their local supermarket. On our list: Special store hours.  Double coupon values on healthier foods. E-mail notice of when new healthful items will reach the shelves and be available for purchase. A dedicated area for better-for-you food samples.  An e-letter to teach about eating healthier and convert interested people who need simple strategies to start.  

Incentives could turn promise into reality, for both well-intentioned shoppers and the stores that care about them.