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    Editor’s Note: The Biggest Opportunity

    I have never been a reality television viewer. I don’t see the entertainment value in people eating bugs, the hilarity of Ozzy Osbourne mixing his whites with his darks, nor the allure of desperate singles proposing to strangers.

    By Jennifer Strailey

    jenniferI have never been a reality television viewer. I don’t see the entertainment value in people eating bugs, the hilarity of Ozzy Osbourne mixing his whites with his darks, nor the allure of desperate singles proposing to strangers. But I am absolutely hooked on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” which aired its jaw-dropping season finale last week. It’s uplifting and inspiring, and spotlights a real need in this country for better information on health and wellness — a need that progressive grocers have an opportunity to fill.

    In several episodes, overweight contestants described how difficult it is for them to shop at the supermarket. They don’t know what to buy — what’s healthy and what’s not.

    That’s where you come in.

    We recently covered Phil Lempert’s latest report, “The Consumer as Commander of the Shopping Experience,” in our April issue. In it, he provides some compelling ideas about the future of supermarket retailing as it relates to the consumer’s “Quest for Health.”

    The future is here, he writes, and although the economy may be in need of a stimulus package, shoppers today are better equipped to make intelligent purchasing decisions than ever before — and it’s just the beginning.

    As the economy rebounds, look for retailers to invest in new technologies that will allow shoppers to truly be in control when they shop the aisles. They’ll be taking advantage of much-awaited hand-held devices that, with a quick scan of the bar code, will access product information, reviews and even price comparisons. These units will become pervasive and, frankly, eliminate the need for most in-store customer service. Whether it is an iPhone, BlackBerry or other device, iShop will become one of the most used applications …

    Then there is the future of health. Now that stem cell research and the genome project are back on the path that they promise, it is likely that within our lifetime, most diseases will be able to be predicted with accuracy, and medical science will be able to “fix” the problem. Until then, we might just have to rely on going to a Web site and entering our health or food allergy conditions, which will then sync with our hand-held device. Each scan in-store will tell us if a product that we are considering meets our health, nutritional or other needs. Too much fat? A red “X” may appear.

    Allergy to wheat? An alternative product that does not contain that ingredient will be shown, along with its location on the shelves, and even a recipe or other information that can be read on the spot or e-mailed to us by the time we get home.

    Food and recipe recommendations have long been among the most powerful tools a brand could enjoy. Having a respected and admired neighbor suggest a new food product immediately puts it on one’s shopping list. Imagine the impact of a thousand peer review ratings — all with a scan of a bar code in a matter of seconds — helping you decide if you should put that product in your cart. It’s all here at the fingertips of today’s shoppers; being ready to meet their demands is up to you.

    By Jennifer Strailey
    • About Jennifer Strailey

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