Behavioral Nudges May Reduce Caloric Intake, According to Study

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Convenience store

France, Singapore, Abu Dhabi—As a natural products retailer, you want to help your customers live healthier, happier lives. You know perfectly well the barriers that stand between you and your goal—but one new meta-analysis has a (not new, but newly verified) suggestion: behavioral nudges.

Nudges, notes a press release on the study, are interventions that influence behavior without using economic incentives, taking away freedom of choice, or even necessarily providing knowledge. This study, published in Marketing Science, found that these nudges can reduce daily energy intake by up to 209 kcal, the caloric equivalent of 21 cubes of sugar.

The two most effective behavioral nudges, the researchers found, were serving plate sizes and accessibility.

Serving plate sizes, while not always applicable in a grocery store, might mean altering the size of the boxes you use if you have a hot bar—if you sell by weight, it wouldn’t alter the price, or prevent customers from taking the amount of food they want, but smaller boxes might get them to take less food. Accessibility is right in your wheelhouse: Put healthier products at eye level, with the less-healthy products up top and out of sight from children; feature healthy products on end caps and special displays. If you have a bakery section, call out those products made with healthier ingredients. Make it easy to be healthy, and your customers will benefit.

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