Can Data Make Us Thinner?
Currently, most of the data supermarkets use is geared around reinforcing existing behaviour. Loyalty schemes use detected shopping patterns to provide discounts and special offers on customers’ most common purchases, their wish lists and their most often searched items.
The question then is: what if data was used to give advice on a healthier lifestyle rather than reinforcing behaviour patterns? For example, if a customer’s shopping list is habitually full of high fat, processed foods, conceivably the supermarket could send coupons and discounts for lean meats, fruit and vegetables, in an attempt to nudge them towards more healthy choices. It’s an idea that brings a number of challenges and controversies, but it’s worth taking a moment to imagine what that future retail landscape might look like.
The potential that indoor location systems (IPS) hold for in-store engagement takes this concept a stage further. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility to envision a future where healthy eating prompts could be delivered directly to shoppers’ mobile phones in response to their behaviour within the store and online. If the location sensors detect that the customer is lingering in the dessert aisle for example, a message could be sent suggesting lower calorie alternatives.
This poses some interesting questions about how far customers would be willing to accept this sort of intervention and perhaps veers uncomfortably close to the more sinister ‘nanny state’ interpretations of big data’s potential. For supermarkets, another vital consideration would be whether the big brands of the food production world would ever support such an initiative. Read more…