Encouraging healthier choices in supermarkets: a co-design approach

Svetlana Bogomolova, Julia Carins, Timo Dietrich, Timofei Bogomolov, James Dollman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This research describes and evaluates the co-creation of a programme called “A Healthy Choice”. Underpinned by design thinking (DT), this study aims to improve the healthfulness of food choices in supermarkets among consumers to promote their well-being. Design/methodology/approach: The research features two studies. Study 1 included five co-design workshops with consumers and staff (n = 32) to develop a consumer-centred programme. The findings supported the design and implementation of a programme evaluated in Study 2 (an ecological trial). The programme modified a supermarket environment to increase the prominence of healthier products (shelf-talkers and no discount), ran positive food experiences (cooking and label reading workshops) and was supported by a community-wide information campaign in social and local print media. Findings: A total of 15 new strategies were developed by consumers and staff to support health and well-being in supermarkets. Feasibility discussions and staff voting contributed to the development and storewide implementation of the programme. Evaluation showed that the programme was effective in increasing consumer knowledge of healthier food choices (measured via public survey). Sales analysis showed mixed results; sales increased for promoted products in some categories, but there was no effect in others. Research limitations/implications: Given the real-world setting in which this programme and its evaluation were conducted, there were several innate limitations. The co-design process generated many more ideas than could be implemented, thus creating a healthy “pipe line” for the next iterations of the programme. Practical implications: The key contribution of this work to supermarket intervention literature is the recommendation to change the paradigm of engagement between the key stakeholders who are typically involved in supermarket programs. Using the co-design and DT frameworks, the authors offer an example of stakeholders working together in close partnership to co-design and collaboratively implement a programme that promotes healthier choices. Originality/value: This project contributes to the emerging body of empirical work using DT principles in the area of healthy food choices in supermarkets. A rigorously designed evaluation of a co-designed supermarket programme contributes to scholarly evidence on food well-being programs in supermarkets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2439-2463
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Co-design
  • Design thinking
  • Healthy choices
  • Supermarket


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