Albertsons taps into rising food as medicine trend with wellness tracking ap that features enhanced search function, curated lists of health-focused products
Launching this spring across all 16 Albertsons’ banners, Sincerely Health was created with health care providers, insurance companies, technology experts and insights from more than 10,000 customers and associates to “inspire wellness,” by educating, encouraging and rewarding customers on their wellness journey, Irina Pelphry, vice president of health at Albertsons, told FoodNavigator-USA.
She explained users begin by answering a brief, HIPAA secure questionnaire that gives them a health score on a scale of zero to 1,000 – “similar to a FICO score, but for different dimensions of health, that take into account factors such as age, gender, quality of sleep, nutrition, physical activity and maybe some not so good habits.”
They can then link their activity trackers, including Apple Health, Fitbit and Google Fit, as well as medications and other vital health information, if they choose, to establish a baseline from which they can set wellness goals. These might include walking a marathon over a period of time, improving their sleep quality or boosting their fruit and vegetable or fish intake.
As users progress towards their goals they can earn points and rewards, including an initial incentive for signing up of $25 off an upcoming grocery purchase or coupons that can be redeemed across the store.
“The healthy points users can earn are redeemed for products that are inherently good for you. So, that might be green beans or almond milk or a protein, including vegetable protein,” Pelphry said.
While she explained that the coupons and rewards are currently “brand agnostic” and “not supported by any kind of input from CPGs,” she said she sees potential in the future for “good collaborations with CPGs that are also investing in elevating the quality and health intent of their products.”
Users can also add items directly to their cart from the ap, including from landing pages within the app’s nutrition tab, which offers educational material and recommendations about different types of diets, including plant-based, low carb-friendly, diabetes and other diet-related chronic diseases, Pelphry said.
“It’s basically an enhanced search function. So, if a customer is interested in plant-based or a vegetarian diet, what would be presented on that page for them as a curated list would be products such as meat alternatives, a range of fruits and veggies and a range of packaged products that are appropriate for that type of diet plan,” she said.
Like the coupons, the recommendations currently are agnostic and based on a mix of manufacturer tags for products, food labels and the search capabilities that are relevant to the type of diet or health goal, she added. But again, there could be opportunities for collaboration in the future, she said.
Reinforcing consumer loyalty
Albertsons is launching the ap at a time when customer loyalty is strained as rising inflation pushes shoppers to be more price sensitive and value-oriented.
Pelphry said she believes the ap will help drive loyalty and engagement long term.
“We do want to build lasting relationships with our customers. So, providing a service like this that helps people building healthy habits they then associate with our brand, we think is a god thing because over time, we can also help customers choose a little bit better foods and maybe exercise a little bit more or sleep a little bit better,” she said. “That is the impact we hope to have on our customer base.”
Albertsons is not the only retailer thinking along these lines. Kroger Co.’s OptUp app seeks to help consumers select healthier items and manage their diet, and many other banners also offer apps through their pharmacies and to nudge consumers to make healthier choices.