In the first new study, researchers evaluated six interventions involving the availability, placement, promotions, and signage of healthier products within three major chains of UK grocery stores.
They found that increasing the availability of healthier options within a category was associated with significant changes in purchasing.
In the second study, researchers evaluated a grocery store intervention to remove seasonal chocolates and candy from prominent locations within a major UK supermarket in the 7 weeks leading up to Easter.
In 34 intervention stores, free-standing promotional displays of seasonal chocolate confectionery products were removed, although the candies were available elsewhere in the stores.
Researchers found an attenuation in the usual seasonal increase in confectionery sales; units of confectionery sales increased by 18% in the control stores during the pre-Easter period but only 5% in the intervention stores (p
The absolute difference in confectionery sales between control and intervention stores was approximately 21 kilograms per store per week, which translated into fewer total calories in customers’ baskets.
This research has important implications for the development of policies by retailers or governments to bring dietary intakes closer to recommendations for good health. Strategies aiming at informing customers about healthier options are unlikely to work in isolation.
These results from a ‘real world’ intervention provide promising evidence that the proposed legislation in England to restrict promotions of less healthy items in prominent locations may help reduce over-consumption.
However, the effect of promotions on consumer behavior may diminish with time and are less likely to be sustainable for retailers over longer periods.