All Signs Point to Health: Arrows on Grocery Floors Increased the Proportion of Produce Spending

Consumers spent a greater proportion of their food budget on fruits and vegetables without increasing overall budgets, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

Philadelphia, PA, June 30, 2016

Fruit and vegetable availability is often assumed to be a purchase barrier, yet fruit and vegetable availability does not necessarily result in frequent purchases. Rather, in-store marketing of less-healthy foods may be a major influencing factor in consumer spending habits regarding fruits and vegetables. A new study, in which in-store marketing focused attention on fruits and vegetables, resulted in an increased proportion of produce purchases keeping overall food spending the same.

To study the effect of in-store marketing, researchers used a shopper marketing nutrition intervention and placed 10 large (6 by 3 feet) green arrows on the floor of a grocery. The arrows were placed in highly visible areas around the perimeter of the store and pointed to the produce section. On the arrows were sayings such as, “Follow green arrow for health,” and included a graphical representation of fruits and vegetables and emoticons to facilitate social approval.

Two groceries were included in this pilot study, including a control grocery of the same chain with similar demographics and poverty levels with no arrows. Weekly sales reports detailing daily grocery department sales were generated by the retailer for the 14-day trial. During this period, the intervention store experienced a significant increase in the proportion of spending on produce compared with other food. Despite the increase in spending on fruits and vegetables at the intervention store, however, the total food spending per customer did not change significantly between the two stores.

Example of arrow deployment in a grocery store.

“Efforts to move shoppers to purchase healthier foods while not increasing budgets could trigger a public health shift,” lead author Collin Payne, PhD, New Mexico State University, said. “And our intervention showed that the produce spending proportion increase is possible without increasing overall spending per shopper transaction.”

The results of the initial trial were duplicated over a longer period, at two additional stores with different demographics and poverty levels. This added validity to the initial results by extending the intervention to new groups of shoppers. However, Dr. Payne and his co-investigators recommend that future studies examine how long this intervention is likely to have an effect.


Notes for editors
The article is "This Way to Produce: Strategic Use of Arrows on Grocery Floors Facilitate Produce Spending without Increasing Shopper Budgets," by by Collin Payne, PhD; Mihai Niculescu, PhD; David Just, PhD; Michael Kelly, PhD (doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2016.05.001). It appears in Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, volume 4, issue 7 (2016), published by Elsevier.

Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Eileen Leahy at +1 732 238 3628or to obtain copies. To schedule an interview with the authors, please contact Collin Payne, Associate Professor, New Mexico State University, +1 575 646 6693 or

An audio podcast featuring an interview with Collin Payne is located at Excerpts from the podcast may be reproduced by the media; contact Eileen Leahy to obtain permission.

About the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB), the official journal of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), is a refereed, scientific periodical that serves as a resource for all professionals with an interest in nutrition education and dietary/physical activity behaviors. The purpose of JNEB is to document and disseminate original research, emerging issues, and practices relevant to nutrition education and behavior worldwide and to promote healthy, sustainable food choices. It supports the society’s efforts to disseminate innovative nutrition education strategies, and communicate information on food, nutrition, and health issues to students, professionals, policy makers, targeted audiences, and the public.

The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior features articles that provide new insights and useful findings related to nutrition education research, practice, and policy. The content areas of JNEB reflect the diverse interests of health, nutrition, education, Cooperative Extension, and other professionals working in areas related to nutrition education and behavior. As the Society's official journal, JNEB also includes occasional policy statements, issue perspectives, and member communications.

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