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Healthy Eating

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How Grocery Shopping is Being Revolutionized by your Information



How Grocery Shopping is Being Revolutionized by your Information
How would you feel if we told you that the supermarkets were watching your every move—learning your shopping habits and taking advantage of the American love for coupons—just waiting for the right time to strike.

It’s no secret that grocery shopping has gotten a lot more personal with supermarkets using your information about your grocery shopping habits to target you with personalized vouchers and offers—but more recently, supermarkets have been using your information through your debit/credit cards and club card purchases to get you to buy more stuff.

For every loyalty point or coupon that Sainsbury's, Tesco and the like dish out, they eat up a huge amount of your information about your grocery shopping habits. We are all familiar with targeted offers linked to loyalty cards, but you might be surprised at the amount of data the big guys collect on all of their shoppers and even potential customers—and what they do with it.

What do the supermarkets do with your information?

If you have a loyalty card or shop online, the supermarkets will build up a demographic profile of you and collect data about how loyal you are, what you buy and how much you spend. They’ll use your information to change what you see when you log in (if you shop online) to make it easier for you to find the products that their data suggests you will buy and in the store. They then use their data to make decisions about what to sell.

For example, Sainsbury's discovered that a cereal brand called Grape-Nuts was worth stocking despite weak sales because the shoppers who bought it were extremely loyal to Sainsbury's and often big spenders.

Tesco is using data about what its 16 million Clubcard holders buy in its stores to serve targeted ads to online users of its new free movie service, Clubcard TV.

This new way to target customers may mean an increase in junk food.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, food makers spend some $1.6 billion annually to reach children through the traditional media as well the Internet, in-store advertising and sweepstakes. The bulk of advertising went to products high in calories, sugar, fat and sodium.

Advertising encourages spur-of-the-moment emotional purchases that are triggered by seeing the product—even the way food is arranged in the grocery store is a form of advertising and can have a big impact on what consumers buy. In fact, a 2009 study showed products placed at the end of the aisle accounted for 30% of all supermarket sales.

If the bulk of advertising goes to products high in calories, sugar, fat and sodium--it's not hard to tell what the average American probably buys at the grocery store--especially if they have kids.

But what if you haven’t given the grocery stores your information?

You may have opted out of loyalty clubs, but the supermarkets still have your information via your debit and credit cards. Supermarkets can tell when customers are lapsing on grocery shopping if they don’t see their card for a week.

"All the large grocers track payment cards in this way," says Matthew Harrop at data analysis firm, emnos. "All your till receipts are linked together using either a known customer identifier—or anonymously in the absence of a loyalty card—to analyze what you're buying and how loyal you are."

However, card numbers are not connected to an individual or an address.

So what can I do?

Continue to shop smart. Shop the perimeter of the store where all of the healthy food lives—your fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat. The grocery store is laid out so you HAVE to walk through the junk food aisles to get to the healthy stuff. Try to make a list and walk straight through the aisles to your destination and whatever you do—do not give in to temptation.

Also, try not to bring your kids with you because that usually means a shopping cart full of junk food and whatever you do, DO NOT shop on an empty stomach or else you’ll leave with every high carb, empty calorie item in the store.

Are there any other options?

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We have a men and a women’s program with the option to receive five-or-seven-days’ worth of healthy meals delivered to your door. The seven day option comes with the My Night feature, your one night a week to just kick back and relax.

The two programs range from $130-$160 and EATS, our essential and tasty snacks are just $1.50 per snack. Women receive two snacks per day and men receive three snacks per day.

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