Whole Nutrition app
A mobile application idea rewarding loyal grocery shoppers with a visual nutrition library of their food choices.
A wicked problem
Our brief was how to create a viable business venture involving software and hardware, within our chosen domain of Food. Unhealthy diets are linked to four of the world’s top 10 risk factors causing death. Bad eating habits cost a developed country such as the US 10bn dollars to their economy; 7.7bn on healthcare treatment, and 2.3bn in premature death of those who would live almost 10 years longer if they had adhered to dietary advice. People’s life quality and potential is also limited when bad food is consumed.
Government campaigns of food models and food label policies though noble are having little effect on populations; “33% of participants self-reported they almost always look at calorie content on Nutrition Facts labels." However, only 9% of participants actually looked at calorie count for almost all of the products in this study, and about 1% of participants looked at each of these other components on almost all labels.” Most people don't even know what a healthy diet is 'I think I eat healthily but I should eat more vegetables.'
Whilst researching people’s relationship with nutrition many times we heard 'I would like to but it’s just too much work.' Despite the numerous fitness and dieting apps, the basic need to track the nutrients in your food still requires the laborious process of inputting the nutritional data for each food item.
With e-receipts on the horizon and online shopping becoming ever more popular, the opportunity to automatically record the food items within a nutrition application is the next logical step. Furthermore in 2011 the Finnish Government passed a law requiring manufacturers to provide a digital copy of their products nutrition to be available for the public.
Supermarkets brand images are suffering, to tackle this Tesco (and subsequently many other supermarkets) introduced the loyalty card to reward their customers for shopping with them.
However, 10 years later the consumer has become a little savvier and the average €7/per Year reward is no longer enough. Conscious consumers are now looking for brands whose values resonate their own.
Could we not use this brilliant infrastructure of big data and tracking of food to bring genuine meaning to the customer allowing them to make more ethical, sustainable and health conscious decisions in a ‘pull’ instead of the traditional ‘push’ way. Instead we saw Health and Nutrition as our way in to create a transparent platform. This way customers could have a very personal relationship with what they are 'consuming.'
As a team we began ideating interface features. What would be meaningful within certain touch points of the customer experience? We also considered the stakeholders from the consumer, supplier and the producer. Would they also have the opportunity for a direct channel with their customers through their ingredients within the platform? Finally, what and how was the nutrition information to be presented? We created a model what regardless of how much food was input, the balance would still be shown according to the national GDA standards.
We proposed various interfaces we later tested with users by asking them to collect their receipts.
How the concept works
1. Download the free application along with their new loyalty card and input your basic BMI information.
2. Swipe your loyalty card when you next go food shopping.
3. Receive the nutritional information from your food to your phone; Such as how balanced was your basket according to how many calories your food contains, or how much of a particular nutrient was in each item according to your own goals.
4. Extra features consist of: telling you what nutrients you are lacking in your recent purchases and a nutritional encyclopaedia - informing you what each nutrient is good for.
Whole never shows you either 'positive' or 'negative' information – only facts according to the nutritional content in food, and the GDA according to your individual BMI.
By creating an online questionnaire we were able to increase our reach to many more people interested in monitoring the nutrition that was in their food. In total we were able to reach 52 people. Some of whom were committed to collecting their receipts (furthering the need for a more automated system) for us to test the value of the nutrition infographics.
By manually testing how the nutrition algorithm would work we were able to offer the service for free as well as learning from our 'early adopters.'
We found that different people were interested in different aspects of nutrition depending on their lifestyles. As a result we developed a different infographic that allowed customers to personalise what nutrients were displayed according to their goals. For example; Russell's doctor had been encouraging him to reduce his cholesterol so the ability to see how much cholesterol was in his food per serving was extremely useful. Other users were keen on watching the nutrients that gave them better skin, or more optimum brain power. For the sports enthusiast who required a slightly different diet. Users particularly enjoyed understanding the benefits of each nutrient and seeing the recommendations of other food items that contained the nutrients they were missing for their next shop.
Building a team
We wanted to see how far this project could go. In order to do this we entered several competitions including the Summer of Start-ups, the EU ICT innovation and continued to develop the project with Aalto Ventures Lean Launch Pad. We also had the pleasure of presenting this project to Valio (as a possible sponsor) and the Finnish Ministry of Food & Agriculture for their thoughts on the idea. For this we needed a team to cover the range of skill sets including; Design, Business and Technology.