Technology Aids Customer Food Choices at Retail

Technology Aids Customer Food Choices at Retail

June 13, 2018
Retail Industry Insights

By Isabel Butler (MSc, ANutr) Spoon Guru Company Nutritionist

A research paper published by Nielsen in August 2016 found that 64% of the world’s population are on some form of exclusion diet. Whether a consumer changes their food habits for ethical, medical, lifestyle, or religious reasons, finding suitable food still becomes an enormous struggle. It is often immediately more expensive, and reading product labels can be time consuming and confusing. 

So clearly, when it comes to finding foods for people’s individual needs, there is obvious demand for more accuracy, relevance, and choice from a large segment of the population. Paradoxically, we also know that there is a huge range of suitable products out there. 

So why is finding food and recipes for our dietary needs so difficult?

Current food search is inadequate
The real issue is that people can’t find the right foods for their needs, despite a wealth of available products. A scan of the retail landscape reveals that most supermarkets fail to return their full product list for common search terms like ‘gluten free’, ‘vegan’, or ‘low sugar’. If a consumer has more complex needs, or if they manage a household with multiple food preferences, finding products that fit their requirements can feel nearly impossible.

As an example, when using Google’s shopping search to find ‘vegan sausages’ in Jan 2018, it was found that 19 out of the 40 search results were not vegan, and two even contain pork. In other words, a staggering 48% of the first page search results on Google for ‘vegan sausages’ were wrong. No wonder consumers find it so challenging to change their food habits!

Why Consumer Search Optimisation (CSO) is the future of retail
Unstructured data and unconnected databases are the main reasons why people can’t find food that meets their specific dietary requirements, not product availability. And that’s where CSO technology comes in.

One example of this is Spoon Guru’s TAGSTM platform, which won the Retail Technology Gamechanger Award at the 2018 World Retail Awards. Spoon Guru has created a smart food search and discovery engine that uses AI and machine learning, along with nutritional expertise and consumer insights, to provide a highly personalized shopping experience tailored to the individual, no matter how complex the dietary requirements.

This technology can find 80,000 gluten free products in the US market alone, when most supermarkets barely find a thousand. And that’s just one example. The platform currently supports over 180 food preferences including low sugar, vegan, vegetarian, milk free, peanut free, and halal. 

Finding the right food for your customers just got easier!
Spoon Guru’s technology is currently available as a free app in the US and the UK, and their TAGSTM platform is powering online grocery searches by large supermarkets like Tesco in the UK. These tools can be used by both customers and retail dietitians to quickly and easily find products that suit an individual’s dietary needs, and understand product information.