Will mobile nutrition apps become ‘go-to’ sources for grocery shoppers?

Discussion
Nov 09, 2015

While nutrition ratings hangtags haven’t exactly transformed the grocery shopping experience as some expected, several mobile apps have arrived promising to deliver a timelier, easier-to-understand and personalized nutrition-checking tool.

ShopWell, which just secured a new round of funding, provides personalized nutritional information in-store to consumers based on age and gender, as well as their specific goals, health conditions and food allergies. Its patented algorithm calculates personalized scores for food items and makes recommendations.

Evaluating over 300,000 items in its database, ShopWell scores foods based on a barcode scan or product search and recommends "better-for-you" alternatives, in a particular grocery store or nearby, that meet consumers’ specific dietary goals and food avoidances. Over half of ShopWell’s scan activity happens inside a grocery store. The free app makes money by selling data to supermarkets.

[Image: ShopWell]

ShopWell’s press release offered a number of stats supporting the nutritional-app opportunity:

  • According to Deloitte, more than 70 percent of consumers are no longer relying on retailer/brand communications to become aware of new products, and one-third use mobile apps to help them shop;
  • The 2015 American Pantry Study found that the majority of shoppers make at-the-shelf purchasing decisions, with an increasing number of consumers (47 percent) describing themselves as "health conscious" or "ingredient sensitive" (35 percent);
  • A recent Nielsen study found online mobile coupons and mobile shopping lists are the top forms of in-store digital engagement today;
  • The 2015 Whole Health Consumer Survey found that more shoppers are heavily influenced by online sources (57 percent) than by their doctor (42 percent) when it comes to obtaining food and health information.

SmartWell said nutrition apps help consumers deal with the "bewildering array of food choices, confusing food labels, and conflicting marketing signals" to help manage their weight and conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and Celiac disease.

"By listening to consumers and partnering with top retailers and food manufacturers, we aim to become the go-to personalized nutrition platform for today’s mobile-savvy consumers," said Dr. Elliott Grant, CEO of ShopWell Labs, in a statement.

Other similar apps include Fooducate, which scans nearly any product’s barcode and provides a letter grade based on its nutritional value and ingredients. Ingredient1 users find new food and trending products based on ingredients, allergens, nutrition and taste profile. Scan Avert helps users avoid foods that may contain allergens or might interfere with a medication.

Will personalized nutrition apps hold more appeal for grocery shoppers than in-store nutrition hangtags? How would you rate their potential benefits and risks for food retailers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Sure, shoppers are increasingly using third-party apps to shop for food choices. But a grocery list-centric approach isn’t holistic enough to encompass all of the consumer’s needs."

Join the Discussion!

6 Comments on "Will mobile nutrition apps become ‘go-to’ sources for grocery shoppers?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Tom Redd
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

For a very select portion of shoppers this might be the route — but let’s be real, most of America decides on what to eat based on marketing, especially TV ads. No metrics or studies needed, just visit many food stores and note that people are looking larger vs. healthier. Oh, these are the normal food stores — not the liberal, obsessed people food stores.

 

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

First, we need to begin by realizing the number of people who use mobile devices for shopping-related activities while in a grocery store is very low. Then we need to reconcile this “check every item” approach to shopping with the “I want to get out of the store as quickly as possible” approach. The two are antithetical and I’m betting the latter prevails except for those who are medically required to watch their diet very carefully.

Ignore what shoppers say they want. Shoppers have been saying “healthy,” “sustainable,” “green” and “good for you” in large numbers for a long time — it doesn’t mean that’s how they shop.

Liz Crawford
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

This is a piece of the puzzle but not the whole picture. Sure, shoppers are increasingly using third-party apps to shop for food choices. But a grocery list-centric approach isn’t holistic enough to encompass all of the consumer’s needs.

First, the app itself is pretty complicated. It needs to be simpler and more intuitive. Second, the app should either be lifestyle- or meals-based, rather than shopping-based. This translates into recipes and communities (not just a tweet button).

Lastly, the consumers who are interviewed in the teaser reel are all heavily involved shoppers who seem to be shopping for personal consumption (not gatekeeping). This is a lifestyle issue for many (how to shop for the household and keep your own program going).

These are the reasons I believe this approach is part of the answer — but not the whole solution. Consumers can benefit from total meal solutions which reach back into shopping choices — not the other way around.

Mohamed Amer
Guest
Mohamed Amer
6 years 6 months ago
The value of personalized nutrition apps is derived from combining disparate data into a single database. Knowing my personal goals, preferences and allergies and matching them with accurate nutritional information is valuable. The reality is that this type of nutrition-based wellness application will appeal to the already converted and I don’t see it going mainstream (e.g., 50-plus million downloads) for years to come. Note that although today it has 2 million downloads of their app, it makes 10,000 food recommendations daily (or one recommendation for every 200 downloads) so it has room to grow within its existing base. A downside to consider is the amount of personal information one has to provide to derive value as well as how well ShopWell (and others) protect that information. Trust in accurate and objective recommendations/results as well as protection of data will be a key factor in adoption and success. Yet the real hurdle for ShopWell and similar apps is not technological limitations or the lack of a digitization trend, it has more to do with U.S. consumers’… Read more »
Patricia Vekich Waldron
Guest
Patricia Vekich Waldron
6 years 6 months ago

There are many ways shoppers can get information on food (and other) products, including augmented reality. The use of these technologies will be dependent on a variety of factors, including the type of shopping trip, level of urgency, i.e. medical necessity to avoid certain foods, etc. Bottom line, nutrition and healthy eating is still an individual decision and varies by many circumstances.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
6 years 6 months ago

There are just way too many apps out there anymore, beyond the basic ones for most people to bother with. When you see somebody with their nose in their iPhone in a grocery store, it’s most likely about catching up with sports scores, a weather or traffic alert, or exchanging texts with a friend or relative.

Grocers still have control of the nutrition info printed on their packages or hang tags. Control over what the external app says or doesn’t say about their products (nutrition-wise or allergy-wise ) might be a concern to some.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Sure, shoppers are increasingly using third-party apps to shop for food choices. But a grocery list-centric approach isn’t holistic enough to encompass all of the consumer’s needs."

Take Our Instant Poll

Will personalized nutrition apps be more or less appealing to grocery shoppers than in-store nutrition hangtags?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...