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Sugary Products - Time to rethink promotions?

The Commons Health Committee (CHC) has recommended a 10 – 20% tax on sugary products as part of a package that would also clamp down on promotions on these products. To investigate ways in which retailers can reduce promotions on sugary product promotions, The Retail Data Partnership (TRDP) have analysed data that identify what sells, and which promotions work best to generate profitable sales.

High profile chef and health campaigner, Jamie Oliver, has lobbied the government to tackle the issue of sugary products because of their link to obesity, especially in children. He cites the number of promotions that retailers have on sugary products, hence you may already be feeling the pressure to reduce promotions on these contentious lines.

BBC News 2015 reports that the CHC indicated that a tax on sugary drinks should be introduced as part of a ‘bold and urgent’ set of measures to tackle child obesity. Some soft drinks contain 14 teaspoons of sugar – twice the recommended level for a whole day.

"Parents would welcome this as a small price differential that would make changes to issues of obesity. All money from these taxed sugary soft drinks will go to programmes to improve children’s health in the UK. – BBC
In the light of this debate, perhaps it is time to rethink your approach to promotions and get ahead of the trend by offering healthier options in your promotion mix.

Instead of having most of your sugary soft drinks on ‘3 for 2’ or ‘buy one get one free’ promotions, why not market The Big Night In and cross sell snacks and a variety of soft drinks? For example, buy a share bag of crisps or popcorn and get a soft-drink for free? That way you reduce the sugary products you have on promotion. You can also upsell these items which will encourage consumers to pick a healthier alternative.

Offer alternatives to sugary products like low fat flavoured milks, mineral water, no-added-sugar (NAS) fruit juices and low calorie snacks, as well as fresh fruit.

"Do retail promotions tend to offer unhealthier products than healthy ones? Although the evidence on this is not conclusive, the truth is that it doesn’t matter, as the aim is to discourage the consumption of unhealthy products. Consumers need help when making their food and drink choices. (The Evidence of Action Document 2015).
Why not make the healthier choices the cheapest choice?

Consumers are more likely to buy nutritionally improved options if they cost less. Companies are more likely to support health initiatives if they make money by co-operating. The challenge is to provide economic incentives for buyers and sellers simultaneously. (The Grocer 2013).

Several major retailers such as Tesco have removed sugary products from near their tills to underline their support for healthy eating. If you stock healthier products, you will support consumers who wish to make healthier choices. All parents have experienced the emotional stress of children’s pester power –

"90% of the products children saw as their parents queued to pay were unhealthy, according to the Food Standards Agency’s definition. They were packed with saturated fat, salt and sugar. The healthiest item on display was sugar-free chewing gum. (The Guardian 2014)
As well as reducing the number of promotions you have on sugary items, you might also consider moving confectionery out of the sight of children and away from the checkouts.
"65% of shoppers wanted confectionery removed from checkouts to help them make healthier choices when shopping. Even more (67%) said it would help them choose healthier options for their children. (The Guardian 2014)
Actions to Consider
  • Use the sales reports on your EPoS system to inform your decisions on promotions of healthier options.
  • Check the trade press for information on product launches and healthy products.
  • Reassess the types of products you display near your tills.
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