Driving behaviour change

Date : 11 May 2021

We know that education alone is not enough to change behaviour, which is why we partnered with behaviour change experts and a wide range of stakeholders to understand how, together, we can advocate and support consumers on this journey.

Over half (57%) of consumers are already changing their diets or are considering making changes to be healthier and more sustainable. However, while many understand the principles of a balanced diet, the reality of what they eat doesn’t reflect this, resulting in a gap between knowledge and action.

Change is possible but it needs to be easy and targeted

Our research reveals that consumers fall into three mindsets; those who are making changes to be healthy and more sustainable, those who are considering it, and those who see no reason to change. And because the majority (57%) of people in the UK are open to making changes to what they eat and drink, the scale of change can be phenomenal. It is this group of people that, with the help of industry, are actively looking for products and solutions that meet their needs.

We also identified actions that companies can take for those who have not yet thought about changing their diet, bringing them on the journey by helping to normalise healthier and sustainable choices.

Working with behavioural change experts, stakeholders from across retail, manufacturing, catering providers, government and academia and drawing on data from over 4,000 UK consumers, we’ve identified practical steps industry can take to encourage behaviour change for each of the different mindsets based around five core principles:

  • Signposting
    Use signage or educational messaging to highlight better choices. Keep messaging simple and focus on positive language, highlighting the benefits of healthy sustainable products over any perceived negatives, to help normalise change.
  • Placement
    Optimise product placement, both in-store and online, to make healthy sustainable choices easy. Consider positioning these options in prime locations, for example integrating plant-based meat alternatives within the meat aisle, to encourage shoppers to browse and experiment.
  • Product
    Ensure healthy and sustainable options are appealing and inspiring, so that healthy sustainable options become an easy switch, offering convenience and familiarity. Health shouldn’t always be the primary focus.
  • Influence
    Though not always obvious, people are easily influenced by others. Consider how you can use social influences to help lead and normalise change, inspiring others to follow.
    Recipe cards and influencers, for example, can help to make the first use of unfamiliar ingredients feel easier and bring an element of familiarity and trust to inspire trial of new recipes or less familiar ingredients.
  • Incentivisation
    Cost is a major consideration for shoppers, and many perceive healthy and sustainable eating to be more expensive. Consider how you can incentivise healthy and sustainable options to motivate shoppers to try something new or do it again, for example through price promotions or loyalty incentives.

A tale of three mindsets

  • How to engage those not considering change
    Whilst not a key audience just yet, those not considering change or resisting change can be persuaded to start their journey if there is a change in their circumstances. It is important not to exclude them and continue to build familiarity through positive and inclusive communication.
    As a starting point, use product, placement and incentivisation to prompt easy first steps. Raise their curiosity through new products, trials and placement in store, as well as on restaurant menus. Making the switch seem easy, affordable and low effort is critical.
  • How to tip those considering change into action
    These consumers are on the cusp of taking action and represent the biggest opportunity. Use signposting, influence and placement to disrupt their habits and inspire them to try something new. Positive reinforcement is key.
  • How to support and maintain the behaviour of those already making changes
    Use product and placement to reduce the effort of maintaining changes. Make it easy for them by providing plenty of healthy sustainable choices, even when eating out. Inspiration in-home is key too so consider how you can influence as these consumers look to try new recipes.
    Unlike other groups, these consumers are motivated by ‘doing good for the planet’, reinforce their actions by signposting health, environmental or welfare messaging.

Appetite for Change

This information is drawn from IGD’s Appetite for Change series. Our research identifies huge opportunities to start shifting people’s behaviour towards healthier and more sustainable diets and recommends next steps the food industry can take in this direction. Download the full research for free at igd.com/healthysustainablediets