Academic and research departmentsCentre for Environment and Sustainability.
My research project
How can food retailers support their customers in adopting more sustainable diets?
Behavioural science has shown that nudges can influence consumer purchasing and eating decisions without restricting choice or freewill. There are ways in which we can change the choice architecture – the immediate setting and framing of products – in a retail setting to promote certain choices that benefit the customer. Although a powerful strategy to influence decision-making, evidence shows that people revert back to old habits as soon as these interventions are removed. The scale and urgency of the challenge means we need to change behaviour over the long-term, getting people to think differently about the food they eat, as well as making better choices in-store. It’s only through changing attitudes and values, as well as how people spend their money, that we’ll truly ensure the uptake of sustainable diets in the UK.
Giving customers agency in their decisions can improve the customer experience – working with them rather than just making decisions on their behalf without informing them, which can lead to distrust and frustration. What’s more, studies have shown that people are more open to change if they understand why it’s necessary.
Using some of WWF’s corporate partnerships as a testbed, this project will look to test the application of behavioural science in a UK retail setting, to drive demand and increased consumption of sustainable food products in different environments. It will look to identify tangible and impactful mechanisms by which food retailers can support customers in shifting from high impact proteins (meat and dairy) to low impact proteins (plant-based), through investigating:
- Which interventions work in practice to change consumption in a retail setting (online, small store, large store)?
- Which intervention combinations work for which demographic groups, and in which settings (online, small store, large store)?
- Does customer engagement increase the effectiveness of nudge interventions?