Role of technology in food purchases investigated

by Meat&Poultry.com
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BEVERLY, MASS. – People expect mobile devices to improve their everyday lives – including helping them to make smart decisions about food, according to Latitude’s newest study titled The Interactive Future of Food. Latitude, an international research consultancy, explores how new information and communications technologies can enhance human experiences.

Designed by senior analyst Marina Miloslavsky, the study, collected and analyzed data from participants throughout the world that shared personal narratives about a time they needed more information while grocery shopping. Participants were then asked to imagine new or existing technology solutions that they felt would best address their needs.

The goal of the study was to learn how technology could be applied in innovative ways to help people access food information at the moment of purchase – to assist good decision-making and to create a more intelligent store experience.

More than half (56%) of study participants said they wanted more product information, such as health, food origins, organic vs. non-organic, farming practices, food safety or ingredient details, while 31% requested information that was logistical in nature, such as location in store, price and inventory status.

“We chose food shopping for this study because it’s an experience we all have in common,” said Neela Sakaria, vice president of Latitude. “We found people want to make better decisions and, regardless of age and technology adoption, now inherently expect mobile technology to help them do so. This now-mainstream desire to access relevant information at the exact moment it matters most has far-ranging implications for brands and retailers – implications which they’ve only just begun to explore.”

Regardless of the type of information sought, three out of 10 participants – which was six times the number who actually used smartphones while shopping-- were equally likely to suggest a mobile phone solution, with 43% of these participants specifying the use of a smartphone application. 16% of all participants went so far as to mention barcode scanning (including mobile-ready Q.R. codes) or R.F.I.D. tags/sensors as a means of instantly accessing background product information through physical, device-driven interactions with the product itself.

Study findings suggest improved information access via mobile solutions can have a significant impact on offline purchasing decisions – which means retailers can profit by providing customers with in-store tools to retrieve additional product information. People want to make healthy, environmentally conscious choices and new technology solutions can help by improving the way they shop for food, the way it gets delivered and ultimately, the way it is produced and distributed.

“Study participants intuitively understood how real-time technology can improve purchasing decisions, which presents a growing opportunity for both retailers and brands to build positive relationships with customers,” Ms. Sakaria said. “But it also means marketers should be wary of trying to ‘pull one over’ on people. Thanks to mobile, people will be bringing to bear not only everything they’ve heard about your brand before walking into the store, but also everything that’s possible to learn on the Web while standing right in front of your product in the grocery aisle. If retailers and brands don’t jump in and actively provide customers with that information, they’ll inevitably find it elsewhere.”

A summary of findings for Latitude’s The Interactive Future of Food study is available for download at http://www.life-connected.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/The-Interactive-Future-of-Food-Latitude-Research.pdf.
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