July 2 2014 Confectionary Free Checkouts – really?
In an example of getting around self-imposed, unregulated policies to promote a ‘healthier’ environment, supermarkets have somehow decided that ‘confectionery free checkouts’ can be used to promote profitable products that are energy dense, nutrient poor & high in sugar. In the above picture, it’s sugary drink and blocks of chocolate . Just because they are above toddler-reach height, it doesn’t mean it’s a more kid or parent friendly option! I have to wonder, when the store manager said ‘yes’ to positioning these products under a confectionery free sign, did they do it with a little laugh (mwah ha ha ha) or were they just being naive?
This shows how some retailers, manufacturers and marketers want to appear to be doing the right thing, but in reality they fall back on tried and trusted point of sale promotion methods when left to be self-monitored. Supermarkets aren’t typically child-friendly, health promoting environments. Avoiding the lolly aisle might be easy but parents also have to negotiate their way around the end of aisle lolly displays placed at child height and tempting for a bored 5 year old to grab.
Such ubiquity of discretionary foods starts misleading our sub-conscious minds into thinking that they fit into a ‘normal’ consumable category – in the same way confectionery and sugary drinks don’t belong inchemists they also don’t belong in department stores or school canteens.
In the UK, Tesco recently announced plans to help consumers purchase healthier options in their stores, in keeping with the interests of society and their business. It can be done!
So, can an Australian retailer take the lead and not just look like they are doing something with a half-hearted ‘confectionary free’ checkout. Take a stance against opportunistic junk food and sugary drink placement at checkouts and throughout stores. For the increasingly few retailers without lollies, chocolate and soft drink at points of sale, thank you, and keep doing what you are doing! For the majority though, this may require the reversal of current policies and it may need retailers to think more creatively about how to tempt customers into final moment impulse purchases without risk to health.
Australian parents represent a huge market and will support a retailer who works to improve their shopping experience; we will shop in your store! So, who is going to take the lead? I’m looking at you Woolworths, Coles, IGA, Target and Aldi!
Tell us your views on confectionery at checkouts and take part in our Healthy Checkouts survey.