As the self-improvement industry continues to grow, customers are striving to ‘be better’. F&B brands are in prime position to support customers and help them make good choices.
People want to be healthier in all areas of their lives and supermarkets are perfectly positioned to help customers achieve their healthy lifestyle goals. This month’s F&B Hotlist looks at the brands making living well easier for customers.
Steering customer behaviour with simple touchpoints
F&B brands are using marketing initiatives and the design of retail environments to influence food and eating behaviour. Tesco is offering free fruit for kids across stores nationwide while the National Institute for Health Research is investigating whether creating healthier layouts in supermarkets can improve food purchasing patterns.
Portland based grocer Green Zebra is already using store design to encourage customers to choose healthy product alternatives. When it comes to fizzy drinks, Green Zebra places Coke on the top shelf and local, sugar-free soda at prime eye-and-buy level. Currently with three stores, the healthy convenience chain has plans for rapid expansion, aiming for 100 stores on the West Coast by 2025.
Sainsbury’s is using store communications to make living well a community activity. In response to the current food bank ‘epidemic’ in the UK, the supermarket is providing a tangible solution to local poverty by highlighting the most useful products for food banks on shelves to complement donation points at the tills. The success of this campaign lies in the positioning of key communications at the point of pick-up, rather than post purchase on exit. Admittedly, the philanthropic scheme is also an economic win-win for the brand as it drives an increase in sales. To ensure authenticity, brands need to be transparent when they benefit financially from an activist scheme themselves and clear communication is key to this.
Digital solutions are also efficient ways to steer customer behaviour. Vita Mojo uses an intuitive digital interface to encourage customers to think about ingredients and nutrition. Customers order meals online, dialling up and down different ingredients to create a personalised meal every time. With over 100,000+ combinations the high-tech healthy eatery caters to customers’ individual dietary needs, preferences and tastes. While it can be expensive and complex for legacy retailers to update their systems, simple low-tech solutions will create a middle ground.
Gamifying good choices
Brands are gamifying marketing and offering incentives and rewards to encourage healthier food choices.
ITV and Veg Power have partnered on a new campaign to tackle childhood obesity; 80 per cent of kids and 96 per cent of teenagers do not eat enough vegetables. (Veg Power, 2019) The light-hearted advert, filmed like an action movie, characterises vegetables as an enemy causing destruction to the planet encouraging kids to ‘Eat Them to Defeat Them’. Beyond the advert Veg Power have created a reward chart for family meal times, positively conditioning behaviour to encourage change. To maximise impact, the brand has gained support from all leading UK supermarkets who in turn gain positive association from the campaign.
Adults also need encouragement to eat healthy and Vitality’s healthcare plans reward customers for healthy lifestyle choices. Completing activity tracking goals, from daily steps to a weekly park run, earns members rewards from partner brands including Amazon Prime and Starbucks.
Curating an all ‘good’ marketplace
Despite growing desire to live well, two thirds of customers are worried about the impact their hectic lifestyles could be having on their health. (The Independent, 2019) Retailers are curating marketplaces where healthy, sustainable product values are guaranteed to make living well the convenient choice. These all ‘good’ offerings make living well easier, as customers do not need to waste their time hunting for the guilt-free products.
New subscription platform Public Goods sells an array of own-brand food and household products, guaranteeing that each item is healthy, affordable and sustainably made. Instead of marking up products to offset production costs, the brand charges members a flat annual fee of $59. Sales grew over 600 per cent in 2018, with the subscription format encouraging repetitive purchases and increased brand loyalty. However, the pay-for-access premise conflicts with the brand’s mission to ‘make healthy products accessible to all’. Catering instead to a consciously minded, but convenience-driven customer.
Providing a simple guilt free shopping experience is key to tacking customer concerns. With 48 per cent describing food waste as a top concern in the future, (Thought Workers, 2018) Planet Organic has become the first retailer to achieve zero edible food waste in the UK, through its partnership with food-sharing app Olio. Olio volunteers distribute unsold food from the stores to nearby members. Planet Organic is a small player in the F&B industry and it will be more complex for larger brands to implement similar schemes. Nevertheless, Planet Organic has demonstrated that it is possible for a supermarket to achieve complete zero-waste and has highlighted the important role of partnering with local charities to tackle sustainability issues.
Living well is all about balance. It is time for F&B brands to think about the product beyond its sell-by date and ensure sustainability throughout a product’s lifecycle. The conscious consumer is no longer a niche group and brands that consider convenience and price in addition to health, sustainability and ethics will win with this growing audience.