SNAP Shoppers Need a Healthy Push

The Lempert Report
March 27, 2015

Retailers should improve messaging to their shoppers, especially those with a large portion on SNAP.

Motivating Americans to make healthier diet choices is still proving to be a challenge, reports The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) in Amber Waves.  

According to recent research, participants in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) tend to consume lower quality diets than nonparticipants, in fiscal 2013, on a monthly basis, SNAP served more than 47 million Americans.

Why could this be? Responses to questions in the Flexible Consumer Behavior Survey portion of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed 40 percent of SNAP participants felt no need to change their diets; whereas, only 25 percent of higher income shoppers felt no need to make dietary changes.  In addition, SNAP participants were also more likely than other respondents to agree with the statement "some people are born to be fat and some thin; there is not much you can do to change this.”

So how can supermarkets look to help here? Retailers can and should improve messaging to their shoppers, especially those with a large portion on SNAP.  Help customers understand how healthy they really are, and what they can do to change. Focus marketing on health, energy, and pain management rather than just simply weight loss. In store dieticians and staff who are knowledgeable on nutrition and can help shoppers create healthy shopping lists and easy recipes. Displays with tasty and nutritious snack options and inexpensive meal suggestions might also help push shoppers in the right direction.  

And finally, listen to shoppers’ health desires to create impactful messaging that will speak to your customers.