Adding More to Their Carts While Helping Customer Health

Adding More to Their Carts While Helping Customer Health

March 16, 2016
Business Skills

By Lara McCauley, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Mars Food North America

You go to the grocery store with three items on your list, two of them being fresh produce for tonight’s dinner, and end up with a cart full of items that don’t include the three specific ingredients you went in to get. 

It’s a familiar scenario to most of us, either from observation or firsthand experience, but it also tells us more about consumers than we realize. Consumers tell us all the time that the healthfulness of a food is important to them when they’re making a purchase. According to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation in its latest “Food & Health Survey,” more than 60 percent of people view health as a major factor when making food decisions.  And nearly all of us (more than 84 percent) report wanting to maintain or lose weight. 

How is it that our intent doesn’t always translate into purchase?

While healthfulness is a major factor, it’s not the only one driving food purchase. It’s not even the main factor. Taste and price both come in higher as factors for food purchase and that comes as little surprise. But how do we work with customers to make decisions that are healthful, cost-efficient and tasty? 

One simple way to help increase the health factor on every day foods was recently uncovered in Australia. Mars Food, in partnership with the National Heart Foundation of Australia, aimed to increase vegetable consumption in a way that consumers would find tasty. 

Working together, the group uncovered some key insights into consumer behavior that helped them formulate a theory. They found that:

  • At 4:30pm, many shoppers don’t know what they are having for dinner that night (Retail World, Sept 2014)
  • 5 in 10 households use recipe bases, sauces, seasonings or simmer sauces to which protein and vegetables are added (Nielsen, March 2015)
  • 89% of shoppers follow the on-pack recipe instructions and are likely to use this as a shopping list (Mars Food market research, 2014)

With such a captive audience shopping for meal solutions, the idea became simple: reformulate the on-pack recipes to include more servings of fruits and vegetables without affecting the taste. After a year of working together on the recipes, they were unveiled with the Tick Tock certification (similar to the Heart Check Mark in the U.S.). The reformulation of on-pack recipes required at least one additional serving of vegetables per recipe, but also reduced sodium by 30 percent and did not require a conscious change by the consumer. The results have been extraordinary. Since the launch, it’s estimated that more than 13.3 million additional servings of vegetables have been consumed in Australia per year. That’s equivalent to 1,000 tons of additional vegetables!

While Mars Food U.S. is looking to further this with their Uncle Ben’s® and Seeds of Change® Brands, as retail dietitians you can do this yourselves by taking popular on-pack recipes from products around the store and adding more fruit and vegetables to them. It’s an effective tactic that can not only increase health, but can work with the taste components that consumers already relate to in on-pack recipes.