Top US food retailers in talks to roll out merchandising scheme helping shoppers make ‘more informed choices’

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

gluten, organic, kosher,
gluten, organic, kosher,
A merchandising system enabling retailers to highlight products containing pre-selected health and wellness attributes from whole grains to gluten-free via customized shelf tags and other tools will be rolled out to thousands of US stores this year. 

InteliChoice - developed by shopper marketing expert Foxfire Printing - integrates product data with the 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans, consumer trend data and retailer marketing objectives to produce customized in-store shelf tags and other tools that "guide consumers to more informed food choices".

The system - which can be used to promote everything from kosher products to low-sodium foods - has been piloted by retailers including Wakefern, Key Food and United Supermarkets, said Foxfire senior director shopper marketing solutions, Judy Seybold RD.

The pilot has proved so successful that Foxfire is now in advanced negotiations with several national retailers about implementing InteliChoice in "thousands of stores​" this year, Seybold told FoodNavigator-USA.

Shelf-tags and other marketing materials can highlight organic, gluten-free, whole grains, no lactose, good source of fiber, low sodium, kosher, no sugar added…

While manufacturers want to promote their own products, retailers can “treat a whole category and the whole store equally​”, highlighting objective information about products from multiple manufacturers based around health & wellness themes such as digestive health, she said.

InteliChoice also logs health and wellness attributes for private label foods and beverages and ‘perimeter’ categories such as meat and seafood.

“We work with retailers to develop customized merchandising solutions that meet their marketing goals, so they are not locked into one attribute. They can focus on different attributes during the year and build a marketing plan around them.”

People don’t have time to scrutinize every label


While Foxfire’s database logs 58 attributes, the most popular include 'organic', 'gluten-free', 'whole grain', 'no lactose', 'low sodium', 'kosher', and 'no added sugar', she said.

As evidenced by the growing number of stores now hiring registered dietitians, retailers are looking for new ways to help customers meet health & wellness goals, added Seybold.

“People don’t have time to scrutinize every label. InteliChoice helps retailers direct attention to certain products without being judgmental. It’s a shorthand.”

We’re not putting lactose-free shelf tags in the fruit and veg aisle


But why do retailers need a third party to tell them which of their products are suitable for celiacs, or gut-friendly? Couldn’t they identify and promote these products themselves?

Actually no, says Seybold.

In practice, retailers don’t always have the granular information about all of their products’ nutrition and health claims, processing techniques, third party certifications, allergens or ingredient information in one place, she said.

“They have the UPC codes, but they don’t all have a central database that says which products are kosher, or which contain HFCS, gluten, or Yellow #5.

“We get a master list from the retailer and then our data partner will physically go into that retailer’s stores and scan and upload information we need, so our data is primary. We can also apply sophisticated filters to the data set.

“For example, our database has more than 8,000 gluten-free foods. But we’re not creating shelf-tags highlighting every​ product without gluten, just products in categories where you might expect to see gluten ​[baked goods, cereals, etc].

“Likewise, we’re not putting lactose-free shelf tags in the fruit and veg aisle.”

Joined up marketing


The InteliChoice system creates customized instore shelf strips and tags. But it also integrates with retailers’ systems to enable them to create larger signs, ad circulars, online ads, rewards programs, smart phone applications, customized nutrition fact sheets, and a range of other health and wellness tools.

It is available to retailers as a licensed product that can be merchandised under that retailer’s brand name.   

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