Fighting Obesity Using Shopper Marketing

Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. In 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults (…) were overweight. More than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010. 65% of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight. Obesity is preventable.¹”

These are the key facts summarizing insights from a report published by WHO in May 2012.

But what are companies doing to counteract this development and are they actively helping shoppers to lead a healthier lifestyle?

In this article we present some examples of retailers, FMCG and service providers who try to offer shoppers tools that help them to make more conscious decisions.


Kellogg – The Special K Challenge

In 2003, Kellogg launched its Kellogg’s Special K Drop a Jeans Size challenge which would become one of the company’s most successful promotions.

Basically it is a dieting plan for female customers consisting of one bowl of Special K cereals for breakfast and another one to replace either lunch or dinner. Customers who adhere to this dieting plan are promised to lose a jeans size within four weeks. The huge success of the campaign lead the cereal giant to extend its Special K product line to cereal bars, crisps and drinks.

On the brand’s website, users can access abundant information on how to achieve their goal of loosing weight. Users can create their very own dieting plan based on a personal goal. The website also includes a wide range of healthy recipes to facilitate the creation of a complete dieting plan. Moreover, relaxation and fitness tips are available stressing the importance of a balanced lifestyle.

On Facebook, the brand publishes dates and locations of special events. Furthermore, users can access a video series called Tracey’s Journey, a regular female customer documenting her progress during the Special K challenge. The fan site received 771,493 likes and the brand recruited nearly 7,500 followers on twitter.

The company also developed an app which allows its users to keep track of their diet and to access useful information on-the-go.

Special K‘s repositioning as a cereal which helps female customers to lose weight was certainly very successful. It is a classic example of how shopper insights and a consistent execution along the entire path to purchase can lead to impressive business results even in a mature and saturated market.


Safeway – SimpleNutrition

In order to allow shoppers a more conscious and well-informed purchase decision at the point-of-sale, being it offline or online, the retail giant introduced last year its SimpleNutrition shelf tags. In total, there are 22 “benefit tags” ranging from sugar-free to 100% juice. The tags were developed in collaboration with dietitians to offer shoppers instant clues without having to read nutrition panels on the package.

On the company’s website, shoppers can access the Nutrition Center where they find professional advice from dietitians on common questions related to nutrition. The site forms part of Safeway’s virtual Wellness Center which also includes other topics such as fitness and healthy lifestyle offering shoppers a wide array of tools.


Fooducate – Better informed buying

Fooducate is a mobile app that allows shoppers to scan a product’s bar code and get an instant score according to the product’s nutritional value. Moreover, it educates shoppers by displaying “product highlights” both good and bad which ultimately allows for a more conscious decision at the point-of-sale.

According to the company’s website the database provides information on more than 200,000 items. For an interview with the founder, please click on the picture to the right. The independent company promises to help shoppers uncover easily the commonly hidden information on “excessive sugar, tricky trans fats, additives and preservatives, controversial food colorings, and confusing serving sizes“².

On the company’s website, users can also access a blog providing a wide array of information ranging from food product launch reviews to lifestyle tips. Fooducate‘s Facebook fan page received 37,164 likes so far. Recently, the company also developed apps providing nutritional information for shoppers suffering from allergies and diabetes.



Obesity is becoming increasingly a health concern in the industrialized world. Blaming FMCG and retailers alone for the problem, would be shortsighted. Instead, providing shoppers with both access to nutritious food options and easy digestible information seems the better solution.

Fighting obesity requires the commitment of all participants: Retailers, manufacturers, public institutions and non-governmental organizations, and above all the shopper. Retailers and manufacturers should consider revising product labeling standards to avoid confusion packaging. Public institutions and non-governmental organizations have to provide education on a healthy and nutritious lifestyle. But most important are conscious and well-educated shoppers as they ultimately decide what to consume.

Help them to make the right choice!


Click here for further posts related to Supertrends.


What are you doing to lead a healthy lifestyle?

Share your tips with us by commenting below on this post!





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2 Responses to Fighting Obesity Using Shopper Marketing

  1. Shawn Mcniel says:

    Obesity is really one of the health problems which plaque our society these days, It is easily treatable by being more physical and of course by having a balanced diet. ,“*,

  2. Pingback: Marketing 20/20 » Superpositioning through Product Extension

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