People Want Real-Time Information to Make Smarter Food Purchases

BEVERLY, Mass. – July 22, 2010 – As smartphone adoption continues to increase, people expect mobile devices to improve their everyday lives – right down to making smart decisions about food, according to Latitude’s newest study The Interactive Future of Food.

Latitude is an international research consultancy that explores how new information and communications technologies can enhance human experiences. The study, designed by senior analyst Marina Miloslavsky, collected and analyzed data from participants across 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 expressed a need for 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. We found that people want to make better decisions and, regardless of age and technology adoption, now inherently expect mobile technology to help them do so,” explains Neela Sakaria, Vice President of Latitude. “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, participants (3 in 10 – which was 6X 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 QR codes) or RFID tags/sensors as a means of instantly accessing background product information through physical, device-driven interactions with the product itself.

The study findings suggest that improved information access via mobile solutions can have a significant impact on offline purchasing decisions – which means that 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 we 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. But it also means marketers should be wary of trying to ‘pull one over’ on people,” adds Sakaria. “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.”

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