I’m from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, an urban health foundation supporting The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) on the UK edition of their Collaboration for Healthier Lives (CHL) initiative. We’re working with world-leading manufacturers and retailers to help improve the health of their customers. In my first blog post for CGF, I shared my excitement about the potential of this collaboration to learn what works in practice and ultimately drive healthier shopping baskets.

At the Charity we use data, evidence and the lived experience of families in our boroughs to guide all of our work. We’ve been helping CHL partners to ensure their interventions are grounded in the realities of people’s busy lives. We did this using a set of personas developed by Shift, a charity that designs products and ventures to help solve social problems, for the Families and Food report we published with them in 2018. The personas were developed based on deep ethnographic research with families in South London to better understand their food habits and what the drivers of these are. This is particularly important for those on lower incomes who have fewer healthy options available to them, living in areas where unhealthy food is often put centre stage.

Alongside real-world personas, we also brought behavioural insights expertise to the group through our partnership with the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT). BIT works with government, businesses and charities to tackle major policy problems. They reviewed the evidence and set out a long list of potentially impactful interventions that the companies could test. Together, these pieces of the puzzle helped the partners to design interventions that were most likely to be impactful for all people, but especially those on lower incomes.

Alongside the evidence we’ve brought to the commercial partners, I’ve been impressed by the quality of their own data and insights, and how they’ve worked alongside ours. Here are two good examples.

PepsiCo, the makers of Walkers crisps, conducted qualitative research that found all consumer groups broadly know they should be eating more healthily, and want to do so, but they find it very confusing and hard to do. This is in line with our findings too: we need to move beyond education. PepsiCo codified the top barriers to healthier eating as Taste, Price, Availability, Confusion and Time. This was further supported by data showing that findabliity / navigation in aisle for healthier brands was much slower. They mapped the qualitative data to Kantar shopper data to interrogate actual customer behaviour and to what extent this differed from the claimed behaviour. Using all of this data and insight, they partnered with Sainsbury’s to address some of the key barriers preventing customers from buying healthier products. This included encouraging risk-free trials of their Better For You snack brands through 1p promotions and making the Better For You options more visible in-aisle.

Tesco also used data to deploy a simple but clever social norming trial. Based on behavioural insights, we know that people are more likely to make a change if they know their peers are doing it too. Tesco used store-specific shopper data to call out healthy actions being taken by customers and encouraging others to do the same. They did this through point of sale shelf labels in key food groups across 16 Express stores encouraging customers to: 

    • Switch to lower fat milk
    • Switch to wholegrain pasta
    • Add more fruit and vegetables to their baskets

These are just two examples of many, showing how different types of data and insight can be brought together to design (potentially) impactful interventions. We don’t yet know to what extent these trials have worked. We’ll be publishing a joint report on CHL UK’s first year of activity with initial findings this summer. This will include information about the interventions, learnings about what worked (or didn’t), and insights from the partners about the collaboration as a whole.

This blog post was written and contributed by:

Jessica Attard
Portfolio Manager, Funding Team
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity