Shopping for groceries is a very mundane and routine task for most of us. It is something we have to do rather than something that we want to do, after all, we have to eat!
In general, grocery shopping seems like a stress-free task, which is true for most of the population. However, it can be a stress-filled task for people, like myself, who have Celiac Disease or any other type of dietary restriction or food allergy.
Nine out of ten times what makes a shopping trip go from stress-free to stressful is the fact that there are some stores out there that just don’t get it. By “it” I mean they do not understand the importance of having a specific GLUTEN FREE section in their stores.
I have noticed something increasingly prevalent while out shopping and that is the fact that many supermarkets are grouping everything ‘healthy’ into one big section and labeling it “Natural and Organic.” This is HIGHLY problematic for many reasons. The major one being that people are never going to learn the difference if we blindly tell them that “it’s all the same” because it’s not.
Nothing grinds my gears more than when I am searching for the gluten free section and come to discover that everything is in the natural and organic aisle OR mixed in with all of the regular gluten filled products.
Last week, I was at a supermarket that I was not familiar with and asked a worker where their gluten free section was. The worker looked at me and said “it’s in aisle 2 ma’am, where it says natural and organic, it’s all the same thing.” A little annoyed, I replied saying “thanks, and just so you know, gluten free is completely different from natural and organic.” Needless to say, the worker looked at me with a puzzled look and I continued on to the “gluten free” aisle.
This worker did nothing wrong, in fact, I am not blaming them or even downing them because of what they said. They were just doing their job and I appreciate that. But their knowledge of gluten free and organic being the ‘same thing’ says a lot about our society and how we view these things. The media has seemed to paint anyone that eats gluten free as some sort of health freak and that it is “all in your head” – this is the real problem.
If grocers want to successfully break into the gluten free market, they need to do it correctly. Nobody that NEEDS to eat GF will take you seriously if you are not executing smart procedures and educating your employees. You can fool the average consumer with your “healthy” aisle, but not me.
It’s not that hard to do your research and understand that when you take the time to strategically plan a gluten free aisle, section or display that you are not only improving the shopping experience but you are making a statement that tells your customers that you take every type of diet seriously.
I am not saying that every grocery store needs to have a ‘gluten free section’, but what I am saying is that if they are going to include it in the same aisle as natural and organic then they should add gluten free to the list. Or better yet call it the special diet, dietary restriction or allergy friendly aisle instead.
This all may sound like a minuscule problem when you look at the big picture, but it is these little details that make consumers, like myself, make the shopping decisions that we do.