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Grocery Displays Are Feeding Your Habits 1

Grocery Displays are Feeding Your Habits

Did you know your environment can have a profound impact on your health and habits? Research shows that even if you have good intentions for healthy living, your environment can impact daily choices. Take, for example, a recent study published in PLOS Medicine on grocery store organization and the way people shop. Food placement in grocery stores has long been a marketing strategy to get people to buy certain foods. Name-brands often compete for the most purchased spots in a store, such as the end of an aisle or the eye-level shelf. They know placement can influence consumer habits. But this fact made researchers wonder, “Would placing healthier products prominently change the way people shop?”

Taking this line of thinking, researchers partnered with a discount supermarket chain in the UK to pilot a research study comparing the effects of two product placement changes: 

Placing fruits and vegetables in more prominent places

Removing unhealthy foods from checkouts and end-of-aisle opposite checkouts

Researchers followed six stores for six months. Three stores used the traditional product placement while the other three stores featured the healthier product placement. Then, researchers examined the loyalty card data of female participants ages 18-45, those considered most likely to be the household gatekeepers of food. When looking at the data, researchers compared previous purchasing habits of participants to see whether their habits changed once grocery store products were rearranged. What were the results? Grocery stores do, in fact, sell more healthy foods when they prioritize healthier supermarket layouts. These healthier layouts are also highly likely to improve household purchasing and diet.


For families who are consumers and not store owners or policymakers, why is this important information? Grocery shopping impacts the food quality of entire households, not just the shopper alone. Whoever does the grocery shopping for a family sets the tone for a healthy eating environment for children. Unhealthy food in the checkout aisle can become part of the unhealthy pantry at home. At ALYKA Health, we want you to know the value of being an informed shopper. We want to encourage you to recognize how your environment influences your habits. Consider whether steps like meal-planning or shopping online could help cull impulse shopping. Or choose to shop at stores that promote healthy living in their mission and implement more healthy food placement throughout their store. You may not be able to change what you encounter in the grocery store, but you can build buyer’s awareness and a healthy mindset around grocery shopping to care for your family.

Next up: Combatting stress with mental mind-games.

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