Signal failure: The problem with receipt traffic lights

Signal failure: The problem with receipt traffic lights

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Experts have recently proposed a traffic light system for supermarket receipts, alerting customers to high levels of fat, sugar and salt in their weekly shop. Taken at face value, it could be effective in curbing obesity levels in the UK, but delve a little deeper and the system is fraught with problems, according to Ed Perkins, operations manager at Solutions for Retail Brands (S4RB). While 83% of shoppers use on-pack traffic lights to assess the nutritional value of grocery products, academics have touted the benefits of a similar system for till receipts. Devised by a team from Birmingham City University, the idea is to give customers at-a-glance information about how healthy their shopping basket is. But to work effectively, people would need to go to the same retailer every week and large retailers would need to adopt a universal policy on what the traffic lights mean. Another danger is that the traffic lights will result in ‘information overload’. Ed believes retailers should work with suppliers to improve the nutritional composition of single products, rather than bringing it all together at the till. By inching away from the red towards a mix of green and amber, suppliers are better able to deliver healthier options that are in line with customer expectations. “Generally people are aware of what they eat, so it’s surely better to focus on the products rather than providing a loose education after purchase,” he said.
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Stephanie Cornwall
Stephanie Cornwall
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