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As grocery stores and manufacturers strive to become health-and-wellness guides, they will increasing adopt new technology to provide more services to customers.
Sue Borra, RD, SVP, communications and strategic planning at Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI), has already seen evidence of this. “We’re … witnessing some new innovations in the space – specifically with regard to telemedicine,” she says. “These strategic investments in both talent and technology will help to share the health care landscape.”
Amy Lotker, owner/EVP of sales and marketing at Delray Beach, Fla.-based Better For You Foods LLC, concurs. “Because we’re living in the still-emerging ‘communications age,’ it seems as though manufacturers and retailers will both move toward internet-based strategies for educating consumers in-store,” she predicts. “Something along the lines of NFC [near-field communication] that enables health preferences to be read from a consumer’s mobile phone signal, and steer them toward the products that satisfy their needs, seems like the type of technology-based health initiative that could reasonably come into play in the very near future. There’s always more that we can do to help proactively educate consumers about health and nutrition.”
Technology will also facilitate the growing trend toward personalization.” As Natalie Menza, MS, RD, manager of health and wellness at Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp., a co-op whose retailer members operate ShopRite stores in the Northeast, points out, “We understand no two customer’s needs are alike, so at ShopRite we continue to grow and support programs and initiatives that aim to personalize the health-and-wellness experience for each customer.”
“There is nothing more personal than a customer’s health,” asserts Karen Buch, RDN, LDN, founder of and principal consultant at Nutrition Connections LLC and a member of Nutrition Advisory Board of the Washington, D.C.-based National Turkey Federation, adding: “I think there will be greater opportunities in the future to address consumer health concerns in a more personalized way. Retailers will be able to fuse the nutritional expertise of retail dietitian teams with advances in technology, including making better use of shopper data collected through loyalty cards.”