Metro’s new health labels come with a dose of data

From Shopper Marketing Report: The grocer is deepening its insights by letting shoppers search products by 50 different attributes.

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Metro is rolling out a new program that will help consumers make quicker decisions about what they buy – while also helping the grocer collect clearer data about what it’s selling.

The “My Health, My Choices” program provides consumers with labels that highlight nearly 50 attributes on 9,000 of the items the grocer sells. The labels range from food sensitivities – such as gluten- or lactose-free – to dietary restrictions such as keto, kosher and paleo.

Consumers can find the labels on shelf tags in store, through Metro’s app and in its online storefront. They can get even more detailed information on the product they are holding by scanning it with the Metro app. Further, Air Miles integration allows the grocer to offer them more personalized deals, using health-based attributes as another data point to determine what they might be interested in.

The goal is to provide shoppers with as much information about the products they are considering as conveniently as possible, in order to help them make more informed shopping decisions.

“Consumers today want to be more informed than ever before,” says Mike Thomson, Metro’s VP of grocery merchandising, citing the grocer’s research that found about 80% of Ontarians said it’s important for a food retailer to help them make healthier choices. Further, Ontarians make 1.3 million Google searches related to the kinds of attributes “My Health, My Choices” spotlights.

According to Thomson, that goal also informed the “My Healthy Plate” program, which launched in 2014.

But “My Health, My Choices” replaces the more generalized smiley faces of that campaign with specific labels that clearly state important qualities about the products they are applied to, he says.

“What’s important will be different for someone looking for weight management versus someone who has an allergy or intolerance versus an athlete looking for higher-protein options,” explains Thomson. “We think this will allow the customer to personalize based on their own needs.”

The program is a win for the grocer, as well, because it provides better market data than that Metro previously had access to.

“Up until now, the in-market data we have access to was through third-party sources, where healthy products are lumped all together in a big bucket called ‘nutritional and bio,’” says Thomson. “With our attributes and own internal data, we are now able to break item performance out by those attributes and better see how a product is performing relative to others with the same attributes.”

That data is important because it will help Metro identify areas that are growing more rapidly than others, “which will help our merchandisers maximize our assortment,” he notes – essentially, attributes that are performing well will see selection and stock expanded due to customer demand.

Meanwhile, the data will also help the grocer extend more relevant offers to consumers, promoting additional products that fit the same lifestyle or dietary requirements as the ones those people are already buying.

“It gives our vendors more visibility, too, which will hopefully steer them in their innovation plans,” adds Thomson. “I think that’s the upside that’s not visible to our consumer, but it will really pay some dividends.”