Trend Observation: Nudging Us Toward Broccoli

According to a report on National Public Radio, insurers are beginning to offer rebates on healthy foods to encourage more consumers to eat better.

A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine concludes that rebates on healthy food purchases lead to significant changes in what people buy at the grocery store.

Researchers at the RAND Corporation looked at data collected by South Africa’s largest insurer, Discovery, after it decided to offer a 10% rebate to all shoppers and a 25% cashback rebate to members of its health promotion program on fruits, vegetables, non-fat dairy, and other healthful foods at one supermarket chain. Spending on healthy food increased 9.3% with the 25% rebate and 6% with the 10% rebate.

In the US, Walmart and a company called HumanaVitality are now testing a similar healthful food incentive, whereby shoppers can receive 5% cashback when they buy foods with the “Great for You” label at Walmart.

Cashback incentives

We have seen how consumers are being encouraged to increase their good behaviors and habits and do away with bad habits. More hotels offer smoking cessation workshops and services, local governments are promoting healthier ways to get to work, and more employers are finding ways to reward employees making efforts to eat healthily.

And when it comes to getting in shape, eating right, and losing weight, financial incentives have been shown to be effective, especially when it’s increasingly expensive to eat foods that are good for you. According to Mintel’s Diet Trends US November 2012 report, 49% of consumers agreed that “it is too expensive to eat healthy.”

This approach by insurance companies may fare better than punitive measures like taxing foods high in fat or salt. Instead, expanding the possible savings to encompass more healthy options–or highlighting discounts for healthy items–may be more successful for all involved.

This is an observation from our Inspire trend “Help Me Help Myself” which looks at how consumers are learning new ways to nudge themselves toward better habits. For the latest trends and observations on Inspire click here.

For a deep and complete analysis of the current situation of consumers’ dietary habits in US, Mintel published the following market research: Diet Trends in US