Background: Nutrition education may be most effective when personally tailored. Individualised electronic supermarket sales data offer opportunities to tailor nutrition education using shopper's usual food purchases. The present study aimed to use individualised electronic supermarket sales data to tailor nutrition resources for an ethnically diverse population in a large supermarket intervention trial in New Zealand.
Methods: Culturally appropriate nutrition education resources (i.e. messages and shopping lists) were developed with the target population (through two sets of focus groups) and ethnic researchers. A nutrient database of supermarket products was developed using retrospective sales data and linked to participant sales to allow tailoring by usual food purchases. Modified Heart Foundation Tick criteria were used to identify 'healthier' products in the database suitable for promotion in the resources. Rules were developed to create a monthly report listing the tailored and culturally targeted messages to be sent to each participant, and to produce automated, tailored shopping lists.
Results: Culturally targeted nutrition messages (n = 864) and shopping lists (n = 3 formats) were developed. The food and nutrient database (n = 3000 top-selling products) was created using 12 months of retrospective sales data, and comprised 60%'healthier' products. Three months of baseline sales data were used to determine usual food purchases. Tailored resources were successfully mailed to 123 Māori, 52 Pacific and 346 non-Māori non-Pacific participants over the 6-month trial intervention period.
Conclusions: Electronic supermarket sales data can be used to tailor nutrition education resources for a large number of ethnically diverse supermarket shoppers.