CompetitiveAnalysis-AndrewFinch

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Contents

Restatement of my Group's Idea

After going through the brainstorming process, we decided that we would create a barcode-scanning iPhone application that will help people with food allergies or other dietary restrictions make safe and healthy choices while grocery shopping. Based on our current plan, the application will keep profiles of users, along with information about their dietary restrictions. Upon scanning the barcode of a food product, the program will check the list of ingredients and nutritional data, and determine if this product is a good choice for the user.

Here is a link to our group brainstorm page

List of Competitors and Related Applications

  1. Allergy Guard by Covert Apps
  2. iCanEat OnTheGo Gluten and Allergen Free by AllergyFree Passport
  3. iEatOut Gluten and Allergen Free by AllergyFree Passport
  4. Don't Eat That by Celldial Inc.
  5. Gluten Free Restaurant Cards by Doron Kramarczyk
  6. Grocery iQ by Free State Labs
  7. Shopper by MidCenturyMedia
  8. Gluten-Free Groceries by Triumph Dining
  9. glutenScan by Zeer
  10. Food Additives by Web Artisan
  11. Foodditive by Grox

Product Analyses

1. Allergy Guard

The target user group for this app is definitely people with food allergies (and not intolerances or other dietary restrictions). It allows users to look up a particular ingredient or dish in its library, and see which allergens are commonly associated with that ingredient. The latest version also allows users to establish personal profiles, which contain the items that each user is allergic to. Once a user profile is selected, that user gets a "green light" or "red light" on each food item he looks up. Some of this functionality is very similar to what we have planned, but our app will differ in a few key areas. Allergy Guard requires that the user find and manually select ingredients that he is questioning, whereas our app will use a barcode scanner to automatically look up ingredients. Also, Allergy Guard relies on a built-in library of ingredients and allergens, which must be periodically updated. Our app will use the internet for this, which ensures that this data is always up to date.

2. iCanEat OnTheGo Gluten and Allergen Free

This app targets users with food allergies who intend to go to fast food and quick service restaurants. It allows for a user to set up an allergen profile (only one) and then shows them which menu items from a selected fast food chain contain those allergens (in the form of color-coded matrices). It is limited in that it only works for 15 fast food chains, and it only allows for one user profile to be created. It is of no use in the grocery store or when inquiring about individual ingredients/dishes, has no barcode scanning, and requires periodic software updates for its information to stay current.

3. iEatOut Gluten and Allergen Free

This app is made by the same company as the app described above, and is in many ways very similar, but attempts to address the needs of people with food allergies who intend to go out to traditional restaurants (not fast food). It has a library of 176 menu items from 7 different cuisines, and allergens commonly associated with each dish. This app also only allows the user to set up a single profile, and relies on an offline database of information that must be periodically updated. Another issue with this product is that the information for these menu items is only general, and is not necessarily accurate, as every restaurant prepares dishes differently. Furthermore, unlike the app that we are designing, this one is of no use in the grocery store or when inquiring about individual ingredients/dishes, and has no barcode scanning.

4. Don't Eat That

The Don't Eat That app is a little different from the ones mentioned previously. Instead of just targeting users with food allergies, it targets health-conscious users who want to obtain more knowledge about the additives in the foods they eat, as well as users with allergies and asthma. It is a very simple app. It presents the user with a number of categories for food additives and ingredients (such as carcinogens, allergens, GMO's, etc.), and then allows the user to search for and select an ingredient from one of these categories. It then displays a short paragraph of useful information on the chosen ingredient. While this app is useful and related to ours, it doesn't really compete with it. It is merely a database of information, and offers no customizable features, automation, or barcode scanning. Also, like the previously described applications, it relies on an offline and somewhat limited database of information which must be periodically updated. It doesn't particularly cater to users with allergies and dietary restrictions.


5. Gluten Free Restaurant Cards

This is another application that really doesn't compete with ours, but falls into the same realm. Restaurant cards are an important thing for people with food allergies, as they make the process of conveying critical allergy information to waiters and waitresses easier. This app targets users with Coeliac disease or gluten allergies who wish to travel and eat out in other countries. It provides them with a pre-written message that warns waiters of the allergy and asks them to check for certain ingredients. It then allows the user to select from a variety of languages to display the message in. This application is simple and effective, but doesn't at all accomplish what we are trying to accomplish with ours.

6. Grocery iQ

Grocery iQ targets grocery shoppers who seek assistance with making grocery lists and keeping track of what they're buying. This app offers quite a few features: grocery list creation with auto-suggestions, barcode scanning, and history/favorites; specific item details such as package size, quantity, and aisle; and the ability to share and synchronize shopping lists via e-mail. The interface is fairly straight-forward, but can get a little cluttered at times, as this app generally seems to have a little too much complexity. Recently, the product was bought by coupons.com, and a lot of advertisements were added to it, which users have found incredibly annoying. While this app does employ barcode scanning, it is for the purpose of adding an item to the shopping list, and not for checking on information about it. Also, this app does not offer any special features to those with food allergies or dietary restrictions.

7. Shopper

Shopper is very similar to Grocery iQ, but even more complex. It incorporates all the functionality of Grocery iQ, with the addition of multiple shopping lists, multiple user accounts, store location finders and layouts, FDA and USDA alerts, and more. While some of these features do seem useful, this is an excessive amount of functionality for an iPhone app, and at times seems cluttered and too complex. It too has a barcode scanner, which allows you to scan an item at the store and add it to your list, as in Grocery iQ, but does not use the internet to look up information about the product. Also, similar to Grocery iQ, this app does not offer any special features to those with food allergies or dietary restrictions.

8. Gluten-Free Groceries

This application attempts to make grocery shopping easier for those with food allergies in a way similar to Allergy Guard. The problem is that it only targets users who have a sensitivity to gluten--no other allergens. The app simply contains a library of products on the market that are known to be gluten-free or safe for people with gluten allergies. It uses an offline database that must be updated periodically, and it applies only to brand-name items, not general ingredients or dishes. This does not compete very well with our product idea, as ours will not contain any sort of offline directory of products that lack a certain allergen.

9. glutenScan

This is the product that is most similar to our proposed application. while it doesn't offer barcode scanning through the camera, it does allow users to enter either a product name or UPC product code from the label. It then looks up the product and searches through its ingredient list for items that may pose a risk for people with gluten sensitivities, and highlights problematic ingredients. Similar to the product described above, the problem with this app is that it only targets users with gluten allergies. We would like to do a version of this app for suffers of any food allergy or sensitivity, with the addition of camera-based barcode scanning, and personal profiles that can be set up to account for multiple users with different allergies.

10. Food Additives and 11. Foodditives

These two products are extremely similar--almost identical. They target health-conscious people and people with allergies and other health problems, by informing them about various food additives, allergens, and ingredients. They are basically both improved versions of Don't Eat That, in that they offer a very similar interface with a browse-able and search-able library of additives, but include the perks of color coding, better graphics, and more visually appealing screens. These apps fall into the same realm as our proposed app, but they doesn't really compete with it. They are merely a database of information, and offer no customizable features, automation, or barcode scanning. Also, like many of the previously described applications, they rely on an offline and somewhat limited database of information which must be periodically updated. They don't particularly cater to users with allergies and dietary restrictions.

Summary

Reviewing these products has given me a better gauge of where our design stands in relation to what's currently on the market. I have discovered which of our ideas are unique, which have been taken already, and what we will be competing against. I am somewhat relieved to find that our idea hasn't exactly been implemented before, and that the needs of the user group we intend to target haven't been entirely met. The application we intend to build will combine features from a number of the products I analyzed here, but there is not one in existence that both has all the features we want, and excludes all the features we don't want. There seems to be a universal disconnect between applications that are for grocery shopping (and include barcode scanners), and applications that are for people with allergies and dietary restrictions. As I mentioned above, glutenScan is the most similar to what we have been designing, but it does not incorporate camera-based barcode scanning, personal profiles, and most of all, only supports one allergen--gluten. This is the gap we plan to bridge with our application.



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