Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Good information supports retail usability

I haven't decided yet if this constitutes really good information or just enough to make a decision even more confusing, but this article about Hannaford Brothers grocery chain in New England brings up some interesting thoughts.

In order for consumers to make good retail decisions, we need good information. Whether we like it or not, nutritional information is important. Too many of us are obese, diabetic, and getting worse. And the current standard practice for labeling food is confusing to many. I did some research on these labels (send me an email if you want a copy) and it shows most people don't really pay attention to details and just trust a generic claim like "reduced fat" to indicate the product is healthy. This is not true.

In Hannaford's system, all important criteria (transfat, total fat, sodium, sugar, calories) must be at reasonable levels to get three stars (on a zero to three star scale). Even otherwise healthful products (V8 vegetable juice) get zero stars when something is too high (sodium). This is why it is a little confusing because for those of us who are not diabetic and don't get too much salt, V8 is very good for us. But the idea is good, because labels like "antioxidant rich" "zero fat" etc can make someone think it is a great food choice when it may not be.

So I applaud Hannaford's strategy, but maybe they need to update the implementation a little bit.