Hannaford Walking Tightrope - The Lempert Report
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The Lempert Report for Thursday April 2, 2009
Is Hannaford walking a tightrope in promoting health?
What comes disguised as a discount, may well be a dangerous step toward Big Brother oversight of shopping carts and home kitchens. Consumer advocates have long cautioned that frequent shopper card programs could lead to harm if shared with the wrong partner.
Hannaford's Guiding Stars program, in and of itself has been a moderately valuable tool to shoppers in helping them identify "good-for-you" foods. But now, a pilot program by the New England chain is focused on rewarding shoppers who buy healthy foods, with free gift cards, for products that earn Guiding Stars ratings.
The pilot will launch in Q2 and includes discounts on monthly insurance premiums. This program, that seems benign in an effort to promote healthful food purchases, actually makes it possible for the next step - allowing insurance companies to track what a shopper buys and then could easily analyze individual health and disease prospects. What is the possible backlash if a shopper buys tobacco products or liquor for someone else? Or loads of sweet treats for entertaining, or processed foods to make sandwiches for their kid's soccer squad? Even if one does eat these less-than-stellar foods, whose business is it, in a land of free choice and supposed privacy? Perhaps it was Steve Burd of Safeway who inspired this program with Safeway's health insurance premium reductions for employees who buy healthful foods -- but this Hannaford program goes further in putting shoppers information at risk and seems less rewarding. We feel the program means well, but potentially places the supermarket industry in a perilous position. Hannaford needs to rethink the program, or even retract it. If Hannaford wants to promote healthy eating to its loyal customers, and keep them safe as loyal customers, they have other avenues to pursue.
What could start out as a discount for healthy eating, could easily lead to a premium increase for those who do not. Decaf Test Strips In what could be called an ultimate weapon in the lack of consumer confidence in our food supply, comes Decaf test strips. Just a take a half a teaspoon of coffee, dip in one of these strips for 5 seconds and a minute later you will see if your decaf is really so. Hmmm...didn't anyone tell these folks that all decaf has traces of caffeine?To reach me directly, please email me at Phil@SupermarketGuru.com For information on New Products, visit our weekly videocast: http://www.ratefoods.com/