When I was 12 years old, a very strange thing happened to me. It was a normal day and I was hungry so I decided to go to the kitchen. There were two choices – fruit or biscuits. I thought about it, looked at my belly, and decided on apple. From this moment on, I could never look at an apple in the same way again.
Suddenly, I started to get an itchy mouth, then my throat became itchy and my eyes started to flare up. It got so bad, I had to lie down. I thought this was a one-off but it happened again a few days later. To this day I avoid apples like the plague, even in pies and, weirdly to some, I don’t even drink apple juice. Something happens to me when I even see an apple.
So, for 20 years I didn’t go near them. Friends have tempted me with apple pie and other apple-related products but I still avoid them.
Where am I going with this? Recently, I was in a well-known supermarket and had a moment of truth with my 11-year-old son. I was standing in front of the apple stand and had two thoughts. Firstly, wouldn’t it be great if the supermarket already knew I was allergic to apples before I arrived? (Obviously, I would need to have somehow communicated this to them.) So, right there and then I then started to check my phone for apple-related products in-store without much luck.
This led directly to my second realisation – I might be allergic to apples but I love carrying an Apple in my pocket all day (i.e. the phone I was using to find apple products). Isn’t it ironic?
Then my son looked at me and said, “Wouldn’t it be great, Dad if…
- Supermarkets knew that you were allergic to apples and were a vegetarian
- They could sift out the apple-related food products for you and share them with you on the phone
- And you didn’t have to scrutinise the labels to work out what works for you.”
He is absolutely right. Supermarkets/food places need to properly understand their customers and it’s not just about selling to them (e.g. through loyalty cards) but to make their shopping life easier. Shoppers like me need more personalised treatment to feel the love from the shops (i.e. that they really do care about me).
Trends are showing that shoppers are more conscious about what they eat with more gluten free, vegan, organic and nut free choices. With evidence that allergies are on the rise, shoppers will be increasingly demanding about what goes into and, more importantly, what is is kept out of their food.
So, I challenge any grocery store to personalise my experience so I never need to look for the apple in products again.
I haven’t forgotten about my Apple phone realisation. This is now the running joke of my family and they laugh that I’m so reliant on my phone yet can’t eat the fruit. However, this phone knows an awful lot about me – my heart rate, all my friends and family, my likes and dislikes, where I’m at and where I’m going etc. That’s at least one Apple that’s making my life easier.