[Student internship] How is your supermarket?

By Joanna E. L Bjørndal

This project was about gathering information to send to a person that worked at a supermarket in Reykjavik that wanted to make changes so that people would buy healthier food.

Most people do not think too much about the nutrient contents when they shop. In some way we all are mindless shoppers and people are nudged by their environment. But it is possible to get people buy healthier in ways that do not moralize or lecture.

Here is something from PhD. Brian Wansink’s book “Slim by Design” that the supermarkets can do to get the customer to buy more healthy food.

Place the healthy food in the first 1, 2 and 3 aisles. When the cart is filling up, we become pickier.

Many people spend less than six minutes in the fruit and vegetables section. If people stay longer, they will buy more. Make dashed green lines zigzagged on the floor to different healthy food. The green line work as a mindless guides for the customers and seem to nudge us to occasionally pick another direction and go places we normally do not go.

Split the carts in two sections and recommend people to fill the front section with fruit and vegetables. People also tend to think that it is normal to buy more fruit and vegetables.

As much as 60 % of the food we buy is within 30 cm of eye height. The healthy food most be placed at eye level.

The checkout area can be difficult and people tend to buy things they did not plan to buy. The store can have different lines, a line without food and a line with healthy food.

If people feel brushed on their behind, it seems to make them go faster away from their location. The wider the aisles are, the more people buy and spend time. Healthy food in the wider aisles, less healthy food in more narrow aisles.

More tips:

Have free samples of healthy food near the entrance

“Did you know?” signs with facts of health benefits on specific food.

Different light in the store, brighter by the healthy aisles

Have complementary produce by the fish and meat section.

Ready to eat vegetables and fruit

Healthy recipes available near the healthy food.

Tips for you: When we are hungry we start to imagine what the food will feel like chewing. We buy more convenient food and food that stop cravings. One way to interrupt your imagination and to make it easier to walk past the bad food is to chew gum. Sugarless gum, mint, work best and makes it harder for us to imagine eating bad food.

Reference: Wansink, B. (2014). Slim by design (1. utg.). New York: HarperCollins Publishers.



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