Supermarkets increasingly bake nutrition and wellness into the customer experience, and the trend is gaining heat as consumers seek healthier ways to eat well, fast and affordably. The movement could change the supermarket experience and help grocers realize healthier margins, experts suggest.

Currently trending

Among healthy options shaping customer experiences, there are some organizations that are standing out.

Indiana-based Marsh Supermarkets, operator of the Fresh IDEA card program, oversees the healthy-label rating system Guiding Stars, which emphasizes smarter choices at the shelf and takes the confusion out of food labels.

Kroger’s Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic lines are free of 101 artificial ingredients. Aldi’s Never Any! line of meat products is without antibiotics, added hormones, steroids or animal by-products.

A company called Shop to Cook supplies retailers with in-store kiosks that provide recipes, meal-planning tips, coupons and loyalty program access so shoppers can plan supermarket trips and meals.

“It is plausible for continuity programs, point programs and other reward mechanisms to be used specifically to drive healthy consumption."

Understanding customer needs

Instead of vying for share of wallet, supermarkets should aim for share of stomach, advises Allen Mason of loyalty and customer-strategy firm Allen Mason Consulting. “The intent of the offering has to improve the life of their customer,” Mason says.

Data use is essential, says Mark Heckman, a retail consultant with extensive experience in loyalty marketing. “It is plausible for continuity programs, point programs and other reward mechanisms to be used specifically to drive healthy consumption,” Heckman says.

Future movement

As retailers seek to build customer loyalty, we should see an increase in personalization and commitment to an overall healthy lifestyle.

Retailers should look to provider apps to provide ingredient information and rank product healthiness. More supermarkets will connect pharmacy counters to grocery shelves through web and in-store seminars on topics such as diabetes.

By integrating meal kit options into a rewards strategy, food sellers will be able to yield a more detailed understanding of customer cooking preferences.

And Heckman envisions retailers working more with brands such as Conagra Brand on promotions that position the grocer as an advocate for shopper health and the brand as a trusted source.

Lastly, retailers should continually pipe fresh ideas into loyalty programs. As Mason puts it: “How can you do the unexpected?”