Consumers Buy More Fresh Produce When It’s Located Near Grocery Store Entrances

Location, location, location — that’s what conventional wisdom tells us will sell real estate. As it turns out, it’s also important when trying to get people to buy more fruits and vegetables.

A recently published study examined whether increasing the accessibility of produce would affect purchasing behavior. Interestingly, it does exactly that.

When people see fruits and vegetables immediately upon entering a grocery store, they’re more likely to buy some.

Purchases from Rootes Grocery Store on the grounds of the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, set the stage for this study. Warwick Medical School researchers watched what happened when the store changed the location of the produce and did absolutely nothing else.

They compared sales occurring between January 2012 and July 2017 to identify any differences that occurred before, during and after placement of the produce section changed.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock

The store performed no advertising, hung no new signs and gave no “nudge” of any kind to the university student customers with respect to produce. Even so, just shifting the produce to the front of the store near the entrance — where it was easy to grab — made a world of difference.

When researchers tallied the results, the store layout changes caused a 15 percent increase in sales of fruit and vegetables — both in numbers of items sold and value of those sales.

What accounts for this phenomenon? Researchers call it “choice architecture” or “nudge.”

As defined by the study, “choice architecture” is:

Interventions that involve altering the properties or placement of objects or stimuli within micro-environments with the intention of changing health-related behaviour. Such interventions are implemented within the same micro-environment as that in which the target behaviour is performed, typically require minimal conscious engagement, can in principle influence the behaviour of many people simultaneously, and are not targeted or tailored to specific individuals.

And keeping the produce near the entrance of the store had an additional benefit. Over time, students kept buying fruit and vegetables to a greater extent than they did when those products were located further back in the store.

In other words, it’s possible to have a dramatic and apparently permanent impact on how many vegetables and fruits customers consume — just by making those items the first thing they see when they enter the store.

These days, when college kids are often surviving on pizza, takeout and coffee, getting some fresh produce into their diets on a regular basis is a definite win.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock

The study notes that choice architecture might be considered especially appropriate for targeting young adults because it doesn’t limit choices. Rather, it respects the autonomy of young adults and their capacity to make their own decisions concerning their health.

“This is exciting because, while we all know eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, supporting people to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption has been more complicated,” said study leader Dr. Oyinlola Oyebode.

“This ‘nudge’ intervention in a young adult population is particularly appropriate because it doesn’t restrict choice,” she added, “and it doesn’t require any conscious action by the young adult.”

The obvious benefits revealed by this study were not lost on the university.

“Having found this result, we plan to support our students to eat healthily by keeping fruit and vegetables accessible in our campus grocery store,” said Tony Howard, co-researcher for this study and University of Warwick’s Director of Food and Retail Strategy.

Yes, sometimes we can count on our innate desire to eat healthy foods. We just need to see the fruits and veggies in the store before we encounter those cupcakes, pizza rolls and microwavable cheeseburgers. With just a nudge, we can eat the way we really need to eat.

Photo Credit: sydney Rae/Unsplash

89 comments

John W
John W5 days ago

TYFST

SEND
Olivia M
Olivia M12 days ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
rachel r
Past Member 12 days ago

Thank you.

SEND
Salla T
Salla Tuu16 days ago

Ty

SEND
Janis K
Janis K16 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Martin H
Martin H18 days ago

I get it: people buy veggies by the entrance and shoplift cookies by the exit!

SEND
Mona Pietsch
Mona Pietsch20 days ago

thanks

SEND
Olivia M
Olivia M23 days ago

Thank you

SEND
Dave f
Past Member 23 days ago

TFS.

SEND
Maria P
Maria P24 days ago

thanks for sharing

SEND