Shop-o-Mart has announced a major new initiative to help identify and ‘support’ the nation’s hidden chocoholics
Hidden chocoholics are people who despite having what experts would label as a mild chocolate addiction (“chocolism”) do not recognise themselves as such. Encouraged by the results of a successful trial earlier this year where Shop-o-Mart stores in the South West worked with the Devonshire Council Busybody Trust to identify hidden chocoholics, Shop-o-Mart has agreed to partner with the Department of Health to roll out a similar scheme nationwide.
Shop-o-Mart identified hidden chocoholics by using research from Torquay University’s Department of Social Justice, based on careful prying into individual customers’ Reward Card transactions, which showed that many customers purchase chocolates at a rate in excess of Department of Health guidelines. Shop-o-Mart staff were then coached by the Busybody Trust to identify these customers and to ask them whether they had an above-average fondness for chocolate. If a customer indicated that they might, they were politely but firmly pointed towards trained members of the Busybody Trust team who were conveniently based in the store.
Since excess chocolate consumption sometimes leads to a loss of regularity, the use of laxatives can be a useful indicator of the condition. Pharmacists working in trial Shop-o-Mart stores therefore received coaching to help identify customers that suffer from chocolism, by posing the question “have you been consuming high levels of chocolate over the past fortnight?” whenever laxatives were purchased, along with the usual standard questions (is the medicine for yourself, have you used it before, are you taking other medication, are you planning to kill yourself, etc). If a customer answered yes, or appeared not to know, or looked confused or baffled, the pharmacist would simply direct them to the Busybody staff, again conveniently based in-store.
These two simple initiatives led to over 140 people being encouraged to sign up to the Devonshire Chocolists Register in a couple of months, around 140 times the number of new joiners the Register would normally expect. Signing up to the Register meant that the chocolists could gain access to the help, advice and monitoring they clearly need. By expanding the initiative it is hoped that Shop-o-Mart and the Department of Health will be able to identify many, many more hidden chocoholics.
Connie Jackson, Shop-o-Mart’s “Colleague Engagement Director” (a.k.a. Personnelkommandant) comments:
“All our stores play an active role in the communities they serve, so we are delighted to announce this new initiative. Research shows that around 38.7 million people in the UK suffer from chocolism but many are not receiving the help and support they need. When we launched the trial in Devonshire we learnt that not only were many of our customers chocolists but a number of our ‘colleagues’ [formerly known as staff] working in store were too. Needless to say, they were quickly marched along to the local Busybody Trust.
Simple initiatives like this can make a big difference, and we are excited that we can play a part in exposing hundreds and thousands of hidden chocoholics across the country and enable them to receive support, by institutionalisation where necessary.”
Apologies to: Sainsbury’s