Buywell: evaluation of a targeted marketing intervention to influence food purchasing behaviour by low income consumers

Lead Research Organisation: University of Stirling
Department Name: Marketing and Retail

Abstract

Whilst many factors influence diet, it has now been established that the marketing of food plays a significant role in determining what we eat and is implicated in the recent increase in levels of obesity. This project will assess the potential for reversing this effect; that is, for using marketing to encourage healthier eating. In collaboration with the Co-operative supermarket chain, researchers at Stirling, the Open and Dundee University will examine what happens when the tools of modern marketing - including price promotions, mail shots, and point of sale advertising ? are put behind healthy rather than unhealthy foods. Research will be conducted with customers to identify what sorts of marketing promotions would be most effective in encouraging them to buy healthier products. These promotions will then be used in a number of Co-operative food stores over a fixed period. The study will examine electronic point of sale (EPOS) data over several months to measure whether people?s shopping patterns are influenced during and after the marketing promotions. In addition, a survey of customers will be conducted to examine their views on and responses to the marketing promotions, and any impact this activity has on their knowledge and attitudes.

Technical Summary

BUYWELL aims to use marketing levers to influence the food purchasing behaviour of low income consumers. Formative research with low income consumers will be used to develop a targeted marketing intervention to encourage and facilitate healthier food purchases. The intervention will be implemented in a sample of 10 Co-operative Group stores in one or two television regions of the UK, and will include direct mail price promotions linked to specific products, tailored messages promoting the benefits of dietary change, and other marketing strategies (for example, loyalty card points/vouchers linked to one-off and repeat purchases of specific products, in-store and shelf-edge signage). A sample of 10 stores matched on area and trading characteristics will serve as a control group. The impact on purchases of targeted and associated products will be assessed through analysis of electronic retail sales data in both intervention and control stores for a period of 8 months pre-, during and post-intervention. Consumer views on and response to the marketing intervention will be assessed through a post-intervention in-home survey with 1,500 intervention and control store consumers. Process evaluation will assess the quality of implementation and intervention feasibility and sustainability. Economic evaluation will assess the costs and benefits of the intervention from the perspective of the retailer, and potentially also from the consumer perspective.

The study will add to the evidence base on the effectiveness of ecological interventions in general and marketing interventions in particular, for addressing health inequalities in diet. By demonstrating the impacts and costs of marketing interventions delivered by food retailers, its findings will have important implications both for nutrition policy and for industry.

Publications

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Stead M (2017) Impact of a targeted direct marketing price promotion intervention (Buywell) on food-purchasing behaviour by low income consumers: a randomised controlled trial. in Journal of human nutrition and dietetics : the official journal of the British Dietetic Association

 
Description Citation in Written evidence from Research Councils UK (RCUK) to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee Behaviour Change. Page 139
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
 
Description Citation in review
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Findings summarised in BMJ article assessing evidence base for English public health policy BMJ 2011; 343 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d7310
 
Description Scottish National Food and Drink Policy: Working with the food & drink industry to enable healthier choices
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact As part of the process of formulating Scotland's national food and drink policy, a member of the team was invited by Scottish Govt to chair workstream 2 on working with the food industry to enable healthier choices. The report examined the contribution of the food retail sector and of price promotions to promoting healthier eating, and contributed to the debate on the role of financial incentives at national policy level.
 
Description Summarised in ESRC Seminar Series 'Mapping the Public Policy Landscape'
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Results were summarised in a report on 'public behaviour in the UK in times of economic decline/rising food prices'. The report contributes to knowledge and understanding of this important area of public policy - exploring how shopping habits change, and the possible impacts on purchasing, consumption and health.
 
Description CSO
Amount £34,213 (GBP)
Organisation Chief Scientist Office 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2013 
End 04/2015
 
Description Department of Health
Amount £12,044 (GBP)
Organisation National Institute for Health Research 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2009 
End 12/2009
 
Description Dept of Health Public Health Research Consortium/Department of Health
Amount £155,329 (GBP)
Organisation Public Health Research Consortium 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2007 
End 12/2008
 
Description Dept of Health Public Health Research Consortium/Dept of Health
Amount £53,224 (GBP)
Organisation Public Health Research Consortium 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2007 
End 03/2011
 
Description NHS Health Scotland
Amount £33,369 (GBP)
Organisation NHS Health Scotland 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2007 
End 04/2008
 
Description NIHR Public Health Research Programme
Amount £95,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 11/3005/40 
Organisation National Institute for Health Research 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2012 
End 05/2015
 
Description NIHR Public Health Research Programme
Amount £178,113 (GBP)
Funding ID 10/3000/07 
Organisation National Institute for Health Research 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description NPRI research project grant
Amount £42,764 (GBP)
Organisation Research Councils UK (RCUK) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2010 
End 01/2013
 
Description Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy
Amount £49,960 (GBP)
Organisation Chief Scientist Office 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2012 
End 09/2012
 
Description BeWEL study (NPRI funded): development and evaluation of lifestyle intervention for adenoma patients 
Organisation NHS Tayside
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Conducted qualitative research to inform development of lifestyle intervention for patients with recent successful treatment of adenoma detected through colorectal cancer screening; ongoing conduct of process evaluation.
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration on academic articles
Impact Stead M, Casswell S, Craigie AM, Eadie D and Anderson AS and the BeWEL Team (2012). Understanding the potential and challenges of adenoma treatment as a prevention opportunity: Insights from the BeWEL formative study. Preventive Medicine, 54(1): 97-103. Caswell S, Craigie AM, Wardle J, Stead M, Anderson AS and the BeWEL team (2012). Detailed protocol for the lifestyle intervention in the BeWEL randomised controlled trial of weight loss in adults who have had a colorectal adenoma. BMJ OPEN 2(3): e001276, doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001276.
Start Year 2010
 
Description BeWEL study (NPRI funded): development and evaluation of lifestyle intervention for adenoma patients 
Organisation University College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Conducted qualitative research to inform development of lifestyle intervention for patients with recent successful treatment of adenoma detected through colorectal cancer screening; ongoing conduct of process evaluation.
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration on academic articles
Impact Stead M, Casswell S, Craigie AM, Eadie D and Anderson AS and the BeWEL Team (2012). Understanding the potential and challenges of adenoma treatment as a prevention opportunity: Insights from the BeWEL formative study. Preventive Medicine, 54(1): 97-103. Caswell S, Craigie AM, Wardle J, Stead M, Anderson AS and the BeWEL team (2012). Detailed protocol for the lifestyle intervention in the BeWEL randomised controlled trial of weight loss in adults who have had a colorectal adenoma. BMJ OPEN 2(3): e001276, doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001276.
Start Year 2010
 
Description BeWEL study (NPRI funded): development and evaluation of lifestyle intervention for adenoma patients 
Organisation University of Aberdeen
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Conducted qualitative research to inform development of lifestyle intervention for patients with recent successful treatment of adenoma detected through colorectal cancer screening; ongoing conduct of process evaluation.
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration on academic articles
Impact Stead M, Casswell S, Craigie AM, Eadie D and Anderson AS and the BeWEL Team (2012). Understanding the potential and challenges of adenoma treatment as a prevention opportunity: Insights from the BeWEL formative study. Preventive Medicine, 54(1): 97-103. Caswell S, Craigie AM, Wardle J, Stead M, Anderson AS and the BeWEL team (2012). Detailed protocol for the lifestyle intervention in the BeWEL randomised controlled trial of weight loss in adults who have had a colorectal adenoma. BMJ OPEN 2(3): e001276, doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001276.
Start Year 2010
 
Description BeWEL study (NPRI funded): development and evaluation of lifestyle intervention for adenoma patients 
Organisation University of Dundee
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Conducted qualitative research to inform development of lifestyle intervention for patients with recent successful treatment of adenoma detected through colorectal cancer screening; ongoing conduct of process evaluation.
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration on academic articles
Impact Stead M, Casswell S, Craigie AM, Eadie D and Anderson AS and the BeWEL Team (2012). Understanding the potential and challenges of adenoma treatment as a prevention opportunity: Insights from the BeWEL formative study. Preventive Medicine, 54(1): 97-103. Caswell S, Craigie AM, Wardle J, Stead M, Anderson AS and the BeWEL team (2012). Detailed protocol for the lifestyle intervention in the BeWEL randomised controlled trial of weight loss in adults who have had a colorectal adenoma. BMJ OPEN 2(3): e001276, doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001276.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Treatwell 
Organisation University of Dundee
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the qualitative research strand
Collaborator Contribution Designed and implemented the intervention, took quantitative measures
Impact Design of intervention
Start Year 2013
 
Description Contribution to Which? report on Financial Incentives 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact We provided a summary of the research for Corinna Hawkes, who was commissioned by Which? to review current UK and international evidence on financial incentives and disincentives to encourage healthy eating. This was the only UK trial of food retail incentives at the time of compiling the report.

The report, published by Which?, identifies the different types of financial incentives, reviews the evidence for each, and provides a set of recommendations for government.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description ESRC Seminar Series 'Mapping the Public Policy Landscape' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact We were asked to summarise results from the study in an ESRC policy report on 'public behaviour in the UK in times of economic decline/rising food prices'.

The report contributes to knowledge and understanding of this important area of public policy - exploring how shopping habits change, and the
possible impacts on purchasing, consumption and health.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Invited lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience Health professionals
Results and Impact Invited lecture on nutrition interventions in socio-economically disadvantaged groups, Melbourne, Australia

Shared learning from UK and other countries on using price and access levers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Presentation to expert committee charged with developing Scotland's national food and drink policy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A member of the team was invited to chair the expert committee charged with examining the role of the food and drink industry in enabling healthier choices, as part of the formulation of Scotland's national food and drink policy. The committee considered the role of food retail interventions and price promotions.

The report of the committee contributed to the national policy debate on the potential of financial incentives to support dietary change.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009