Can Rewards Coax Smarter Food Decisions?
By Al Heller
Facts, Figures & the Future
In case anyone thinks two of consumers’ main food-buying missions today—to make healthier choices and spend less money—are at odds, Walmart is out to prove them wrong.
The nation’s biggest grocer has a year-old icon, the Great For You label. It went on select packages of its Great Value and Marketside store brands, plus produce and low-fat dairy products that passed nutritional criteria—to help shoppers instantly identify smarter food options.
Fast-forward to October 2012, when Walmart upped the appeal with 5% savings on Great For You-labeled products. This purchase incentive was the first of its kind—it went to more than 1 million members of HumanaVitality who shop at the chain. Neither Walmart nor insurer Humana has yet revealed the discount’s effect on buying decisions. A joint statement from both parties did justify the program’s concept, noting:
- 1 in 4 families report skipping healthy purchases, often or always due to price. (“It’s Dinnertime: A Report on Low-Income Families’ Efforts to Plan, Shop for and Cook Health Meals,” Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters: No Kid Hungry, December 2011.)
- 84% of HumanaVitality members said a savings program would motivate them to purchase healthier foods.
“We want to be our customers’ wellness destination—the retailer that provides them with affordable ways to fight for their health,” says John Agwunobi, M.D., president of health and wellness, Walmart U.S.
The Lempert Report expects to see increasing connections ahead between food retailers and insurers because, according to a National Public Radio report, “two-thirds of healthcare spending is linked to lifestyle diseases such as obesity.”