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Article

Nudging Consumers toward Healthier Food Choices: A Field Study on the Effect of Social Norms

1
DEG-IST—Departamento de Engenharia e Gestão, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Av. Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal
2
Nova School of Business and Economics, Campus de Carcavelos, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Rua da Holanda, 1, 2775-405 Carcavelos, Portugal
3
ESTeSL.IPL—Lisbon School of Health Technology, Av. D. João II, Lote 4.69.01, 1990-096 Lisboa, Portugal
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Richard James Volpe
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1660; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041660
Received: 16 November 2020 / Revised: 23 December 2020 / Accepted: 26 January 2021 / Published: 4 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Behavioral Economics and Sustainable Public Policies)
Food choices influence the health of individuals, and supermarkets are the place where part of the world population makes their food choices on a daily basis. Different methods to influence food purchasing habits are used, from promotions to food location. However, very few supermarket chains use social norms, the human need to conform to the perceived behavior of the group, to increase healthy food purchase habits. This research seeks to understand how a social norm nudge, a message conveying fruit and vegetable purchasing norms positioned in strategic places, can effectively change food choices. Using data from an intervention in a Portuguese supermarket, the fruit and vegetable purchase quantities of 1636 customers were measured over three months and compared with the corresponding period of the previous year. The results show that the nudge intervention positively affected those whose purchasing habits are categorized as less healthy, while those with healthy habits were slightly negatively affected. Moreover, a follow-up inferential statistical analysis allows us to conclude that applying this intervention at a larger scale would deliver significant financial results for the supermarket chain in which the study took place, by decreasing the costs related to produce perishability while simultaneously improving the health of the consumer and the sustainability of the planet. View Full-Text
Keywords: nudging; behavioral science; health; food choices; sustainability; social norms nudging; behavioral science; health; food choices; sustainability; social norms
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gonçalves, D.; Coelho, P.; Martinez, L.F.; Monteiro, P. Nudging Consumers toward Healthier Food Choices: A Field Study on the Effect of Social Norms. Sustainability 2021, 13, 1660. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041660

AMA Style

Gonçalves D, Coelho P, Martinez LF, Monteiro P. Nudging Consumers toward Healthier Food Choices: A Field Study on the Effect of Social Norms. Sustainability. 2021; 13(4):1660. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041660

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gonçalves, Diogo, Pedro Coelho, Luis F. Martinez, and Paulo Monteiro. 2021. "Nudging Consumers toward Healthier Food Choices: A Field Study on the Effect of Social Norms" Sustainability 13, no. 4: 1660. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041660

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