UK supermarket Tesco is trialing an innovative new trolley design. Tesco’s new Trim Trolley allows consumers to exercise while they shop by offering differing resistance when pushing and counting the calories they burn as they go round the store. This innovative approach to shopping could boost sales of low-fat, low-carb or other diet products, but equally consumers may reward themselves for their efforts with extra cakes, sweets and chocolate…

The glut of low-fat, low carb and other diet options on supermarkets shelves is clear evidence that today’s shoppers are at least conscious of the need to think about their weight as they choose their daily shopping. In fact, the high visibility of healthy eating products probably prompts consumers to think about their waistlines as they shop. But now, thanks to German firm Wanzl, shoppers will be able to take more affirmative action than simply buying more low-carb snacks.

The Trim Trolley comes equipped with a pulse monitor, timer and various other gadgets which would not be out of place on a gym treadmill. And to make sure shoppers are getting all the exercise they can, the trolleys have a variable resistance, making them harder to push around the store.

The Trim Trolley may seem an outlandish idea, but it reflects a number of trends in modern life. Firstly, the concern over diet and exercise, prompted by the growing levels of obesity in the West. But at the same time, many consumers find that their lives are too full and complicated to allow them to live the healthy lifestyle they crave. Addressing these concerns, the Trim Trolley allows consumers to squeeze in exercise during the course of an ordinary week.

While the idea has some drawbacks (ordinarily, trolleys which are harder to push are seen as a problem, not an exercise opportunity) it will be interesting to see consumers’ reaction to them. Specifically, it is difficult to predict the effect on sales of “unhealthy” items such as sweets, crisps and carbonated drinks. For some, the virtue of exercise may have knock-on effects on purchases, leading to greater sales of healthy eating products. For others, though, the knowledge that the very act of pushing a six-pack of cola and a slab of chocolate to the till burns off half a calorie may act as a justification for buying them.

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