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英语新闻:你知道超市也有“潜规则”么?

2014-10-14    来源:chinadaily    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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Healthy eating: The mind games of supermarkets
英语新闻:你知道超市也有“潜规则”么?


Every time you enter the supermarket, you're being manipulated. By design, all of the basics you're just dropping by to pick up lie on the far side of a sea of temptation: the eggs, milk, and bread are blocked by fruit snacks, those fancy new chips, and a display of artisanal beef jerky. If that wasn’t enough, your kids are targets too: all the cereal at the eye level of a child sitting in a shopping cart is pasted with cartoon blandishments, the better to lure them in with.

But could we be manipulated for the better? The average food manufacturer has little reason to divert us from their high-fat, high-sugar, high-deliciousness products. Yet given that we are already being influenced, one can wonder whether stores might eventually see the benefit – perhaps administered through public health-related tax cuts – to making the produce section into a wonderland that has the kids screaming for kale.

Even within our current stores, it isn't difficult to nudge people in a better direction, at least in the short term. Esther Papies, a professor of social psychology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, found that handing out recipe flyers at a store entrance that included words like "healthy" and "low-calorie" caused people who were overweight or dieting to subconsciously buy fewer snacks. They took a whopping 75% fewer snack items to the checkouts than those who received the control flier, which did not have the health-related terms on it. Seeing those words – being primed by them – activated people's existing goals and reminded them what they could do now to meet them, without the shoppers really taking notice, says Papies.

Other tricks have been proposed by Brian Wansink, a professor of consumer behaviour at Cornell who's well known for his research into the psychology of eating. Some of his latest work takes an earlier finding – that people increase their fruit and vegetable intake by 24% if they are told that half of their dinner plate should be reserved for these foods – and applies it to supermarket shopping. Wansink found that dividing a grocery cart in two, with half to be used only for fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat, causes people to spend more than twice as much on fruits and vegetables than people without a partition – $3.65 versus $1.82 on fruits and $5.19 versus $2.17 on vegetables. The idea is that the partition implies the existence of a social norm that consumers try to meet.


Anne Escaron, a public health researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, has co-authored a review of studies into supermarket interventions for promoting healthy shopping that stretch back over 40 years. She says that, in general, the more angles covered by the interventions, the more successful they have been overall in shifting consumers' habits. For instance, while using signs on store shelves that promote healthy shopping might help, if this is combined with some subtle price manipulation, the intervention is more likely to be effective. "Any way that you can catch more than one impulse that someone may have in the grocery store, the more you're going to be able to influence consumer choices," she says.

Interventions that shops could incorporate in the long term are a bit more of a puzzle, though. Knocking down the price of a healthy product far enough will make it fly off the shelves, says Karen Glanz, a professor of epidemiology at University of Pennsylvania. "But the downside is somebody's got to pay for [the price cuts]," she points out. She has also learned that we're not all open to manipulation in the same way. For instance, she has found from interviews with shoppers in low-income areas that highlighting how healthy a product is can send the message that it will taste bad, rather than convincing them to buy it.

Milk on the left

But while emphasising healthiness may not work everywhere, other nudging techniques might. For a study published this year, Glanz and her collaborators re-shuffled the beverages sections of grocery stores so that low- or no-calorie drinks such as water took up more display space in the sweet spot at eye level, and the dairy sections so that skimmed milk, rather than whole milk, sat on the left side of the case, where consumers usually look first. They also marked them with coloured signs, though these had no health information on them. These interventions did not require priming or giving consumers a deal, but they boosted sales of skimmed milk and water all the same. Glanz recently secured funding from the US National Institutes of Health for a large, two-year study that directly addresses how stores could cause significant changes in shoppers' habits with such subtle changes.

It could be that the most sustainable interventions, like the ones that currently route you past the snacks or put objects at the ends of aisles where they are emphasised for the purposes of selling more, aren't ones you necessarily notice. Produce sections are already placed just inside the front doors of stores, to give an impression of freshness and healthiness that then permeates the rest of your trip. High-end stores like Whole Foods Market, which has stores across North America and in London, have led a charge in primping up produce sections even further, including offering samples and emphasising information about food's origins.

These stores might not yet have found a design that makes kale irresistible to kids, but greater focus on produce and swapping around items so that healthier options take up more of the shelf real estate than they do now might have a larger effect that you'd imagine. How will the health-conscious grocery store of the future look? It might be surprisingly similar to today's, with most of the changes that alter shoppers' behaviour going barely noticed by the customer.

It might feel strange to think that are so easily swayed without you realising. But embrace the fact that you are not all your conscious mind desires.

 


每每进超市,你都被操控。你本来是来买鸡蛋、牛奶、面包这些必需品的,但是超市将这些东西都设计在很远的地方,要买到它们,你必须穿过无数诱惑:果蔬小吃、新款薯片、手工牛肉干摆放区。如果这样你都无动于衷,那还有你的孩子:坐在购物车里的孩子平视之处就是谷类食品,上面的卡通图案就像在“召唤”他们。

但我们能不能被操控着去买更健康的食物呢?生产商没有理由劝我们不买大众偏爱的高脂、高糖、高香精食品。但既然我们已经被影响了,有人就想了,店家最终能否看清个中利益呢——或许,公众健康类税收优惠是个解决之道——把食品区变成一个乐园,让每个孩子都争着抢着要甘蓝菜。

至少短期来看,即使在目前的商店内,要把顾客引往健康食品区也不是太难。荷兰乌得勒支大学(Utrecht University)社会心理学教授埃斯特·佩皮斯(Esther Papies)发现,在商店入口发放印有“健康”和“低卡路里”字样的食谱传单,能让超重和节食人群下意识地少买些零食。比起那些拿到未印有健康信息传单的人来说,前者少买了75%的零食。佩皮斯说,看看这些词的魔力,它能潜移默化地激励人们从现在做起,提醒他们努力实现目标。

因研究饮食心理而闻名的康奈尔大学消费者行为学教授布莱恩·文森克(Brian Wansink)也揭秘了一些小伎俩。他近期的一些研究也用到了早期的发现——如果告诉消费者,他们的餐盘要留一半放水果和蔬菜,人们会多吃24%的果蔬——超市购物亦是如此。文森克发现,将购物车一分为二,其中一半规定只能放水果、蔬菜、奶制品和肉制品,此类消费者会比一般人多买一倍多的水果蔬菜——水果:$3.65比$1.82,蔬菜:$5.19比$2.17。秘诀就是,划分让消费者觉得这是一种社会规范,他们就会尽量去做到。

加利福尼亚大学的公共卫生研究院安妮·埃斯卡隆(Anne Escaron)参与撰写了关于40年前超市对推广健康购物干预手段的评论。她表示,总的来说,超市干预得越多,越能影响消费者行为。比如,虽然购物架上的标语能起到推广健康购物的作用,但如果能再加上一些价格隐性操控,效果就更好了。她说:“掌握越多消费者动向,就越能影响他们购物选择。”

若要商店长期干预,就需要费些脑筋。宾夕法尼亚大学(University of Pennsylvania)的流行病学教授凯伦·格兰茨(Karen Glanz,)说,降低健康食品价格当然会使之热销,但她也表示:“总得有人弥补这个差价。”她也发现,每个人受操控的方式还不一样。比如,在对低收入地区的消费者采访中,她发现这类购物者觉得健康食品就是“难吃”的代名词,更不会想买了。

摆在左边的牛奶

虽说推广健康理念不是“万金油”,但还是有一些通用的窍门。在今年出版的一项研究中,格兰茨及其合作人员重新调整了商店的饮品区。经调整,顾客平视之处就有很多像水这样零热量或低热量饮品。在奶制品区,顾客习惯先看的左侧会是脱脂奶,而非全脂奶。他们用彩色标签突出产品,但上面并没有其它健康信息。这些干预手段无需花哨的包装或折扣,但也提升了脱脂奶和水制品的销量。最近,格兰茨一项为期两年的大型研究项目得到了美国国立卫生研究院(the US National Institutes of Health)的资金支持,该项目研究商店如何能以微小变化深刻影响顾客选择。

或许像引导你走过零食,或为增加销量而把物品放置走廊尽头这类最可持续的干预,已不足以引起你的注意。为了让你在购物的全程都有一种新鲜和健康的感觉,超市早就将食品区设在正门口,目之所及皆有食物。像全食超市(Whole Foods Market)这样在全北美和伦敦均有门店的高端商店,在产品区的包装上更是先人一步,他们会提供样品,并凸显食品来源。

这些商店可能暂时还没想到何种设计能让儿童爱上甘蓝菜,但关注食品,调换位置,增放健康食品的效果会让你喜出望外。未来的健康商店会是什么样?可能它看上去和今天的商店惊人的相似,因为很多影响消费行为的改变消费者都看不出来。

你或许对自己不知不觉地就受摆布还有点讶异,但有时候我们就是不受自己的意识控制的,接受这个事实吧。



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