Spend Nothing to ShopWell?

Though men usually don’t care to admit it, we too often enjoy to go shopping.  Sort of.  Generally, men tend to enjoy what they purchase far more than the experience of shopping itself.  For us, shopping just isn’t an experience or event, it’s just a means to an end like coming home with a new plasma TV.

If you’re wondering what I’m referring to in terms of how you can shop well by spending nothing, it’s a new freemium online service that provides  free personalized nutrition information services.

Freemium is a trendy business model that’s worked well for companies ranging from WordPress to Google.  For the most part, its success relies on word of mouth advertising.  People tend to write or talk about things that are free.

In the health and fitness sector, there certainly appears to be a trend towards developing free online tools with the end result being to promote or sell products in some cases.  Earlier this summer, I was contacted by another silicone valley startup company who asked me to provide feedback on their personalized vitamin advisor based on their proprietary algorithm.

Back to Shopwell...  How does this silicone valley startup company plan on generating revenue?  Well, it sounds like their going to sell their real-time consumer preferences and data to Branded Food Companies.

From Businesswire, ShopWell has recently hired a new CEO, L. Jasmine Kim, who was quoted as saying:

“Today’s consumers are more health-conscious than ever, but they don’t always have an easy way to get dietary and nutrition information specific to their family’s health needs,” said Jasmine Kim, CEO of ShopWell. “ShopWell’s goal is to empower individuals to make better and healthier food choices, while at the same time give food producers deeper insight into consumer food preferences, needs and buying habits to create better products. I am excited to join this talented team and be part of this incredible endeavor to make healthy eating easier and more accessible to everyone.”

The ShopWell Experience – What does it actually do?

Admittedly, I took ShopWell for a fairly quick test drive.  Essentially, it’s designed to allow you to make your grocery shopping list in the context of your health goals.  It seems to include a wide variety of products and brands when you enter search terms such as “orange juice” or “cereal” along with a numerical score.

It also has a hover over for the good, bad, and ugly or various products such as “excellent source of fibre” or “preservatives” added.  You can even sort products by their score, relevancy, or product name.  The product’s nutrition label is also included.

If you specify a given product, it will also highlight the offending ingredients with a color-coded highlight that corresponds to the nutritional facts.  If the product has a low score, you will be given alternatives.

To gain access to this nutrition information, you do have to sign in with your email and password.  You can then select among various goals such as “weight management” or “high blood pressure.”  You will then be edified with tips such as things you don’t want:

  • added sugar
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • trans fats
  • high cholesterol
  • high sodium
  • high saturated fat

Is ShopWell useful?

First, for those who have serious medical conditions, it’s obviously not a suitable replacement for proper medical advice from your physician or proper nutrition guidance from a dietician.

If you’re relatively young and healthy, know how to read a nutrition label, and are somewhat knowledgeable about nutrition, you probably won’t get much of this tool.  As a partial test, ask yourself if you already knew that products with added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, trans fat, salt, and saturated fats are bad for your health.

Does it solve a problem? It certainly targets common problems such as poor dietary habits and obesity, but I suspect these issues are far more complex than due to simply a  lack of information.  Poor dietary habits also involve numerous psychological factors.  That being said, it does do some ‘thinking’ for you in terms of identifying whether or not various branded foods are good / bad/ or neutral in terms of your dietary goals.  In that sense, it may actually save you some time and money.

How could ShopWell be improved? Right now it’s still in the beta version.  The information for various health conditions is fairly simplistic and doesn’t include suggestions for omega-3 fish oil, as just one example.  It also lacks any type of food guide information or motivational tips for eating health among other things.

Want to take a look?  You can visit ShopWell solutions by following this link.  If you do, share your feedback with us!

3 thoughts on “Spend Nothing to ShopWell?

  • September 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I love online health tools that help you measure your goals and success. Even better when they’re free!

    • September 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm

      Hey Mandy, it’s definitely worth checking out for sure.
      It’s still in the beta stage, so I suspect that they’ll continue to improve Shopwell. As Doug suggests, it’s not for everyone, but it could be helpful for many.

  • September 16, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Definitely an interesting concept.

    As Jarret said, it isn’t perfect for someone with extreme diet requirements (aka…some of my Paleo brethren) but it looks like a pretty great tool for “normal” people looking to eat healthy without becoming obsessed with calories and carbs and fats, etc….


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