The idea behind the scheme is to reward consumers for buying healthy foods, as revealed by the agency news and comment website Pitch.
For example, a shopper would receive loyalty points for buying a wholemeal loaf of bread, whereas a white loaf would attract no points. Vegetable and fruit purchases would be rewarded, but purchases of high-fat foods and some ready-made products would not.
As well as accumulating points for making healthy purchases, participants will “earn” points by undertaking physical activity, which might be measured by using pedometers or mileage meters fitted to bicycles.
The Department of Health has provided £3.5m funding for the Manchester trial, which will run over three years. It is hoped the model will expand to other towns and cities in the UK, following successful implementation in Manchester.
Collected loyalty points will be “cashed in” in a variety of ways, such as free or discounted memberships for local authority sports and arts facilities, special in-store supermarket promotions and other local benefits. It is understood that the initial scheme has signed up a major Premiership football club in the region, which will offer exclusive ’experiences’ as part of the rewards packages.
The arrangement reflects the vision expressed in a report published by the Public Health Commission, which was set up in 2008 to review ways to improve public health. The Commission was formed following a request by Andrew Lansley MP, the Shadow Health Secretary and was chaired by Dave Lewis, the then chairman of Unilever UK and Ireland who was recently promoted to run Unilever’s US operation. Members of the Commission included representatives from Asda and Tesco, several health-related charities and other industry bodies.
In its report, We’re All In This Together, published in July 2009, the Commission proposed a major rationalisation and simplification of Government health messages, including bringing alcohol under the Change4Life strategy and a commitment to develop partnerships between Government, business and charities to incentivise the public to make healthier choices.
The Government has been running the high-profile £75m Change4Life campaign encouraging people to lead a healthy lifestyle since 2008. The Aardman animated ads have been created by M&C Saatchi.