Of the 10 causes of death and disability identified by the Centers for Disease Control, seven are influenced by everyday human behavior: Diet. Maya Vadiveloo, University of Rhode Island (URI) assistant professor of nutrition and food science, aims to create tools to influence healthier dietary habits. She is exploring how marketing techniques broadly used in the retail world could influence the decisions she knows has gravitas – what people eat. “Regardless of who you are, everyone has to eat,” Vadiveloo says. Retail industries widely use targeted marketing as a tactic to draw consumers. Toothpaste coupons frequently follow the purchase of a new toothbrush, a Google search for new running sneakers prompts ads on social media, and even browsing in a local retail store can trigger corresponding banner ads on search engines. Comparatively, in the nutrition field personalized advertising remains in its infancy. Vadiveloo thinks this represents a missed opportunity. She is collaborating with Belmont Market, a family-owned grocery store in Wakefield, Rhode Island, to test whether targeting incentives improve consumers shopping decisions in the grocery store. From September 2018 through May 2019, Belmont will be distributing highly personalized coupons to 224 customers, discounting healthier alternatives to items they currently buy. The team of collaborators and mentors includes URI College of Business Professor Stephen Atlas, and URI College of Pharmacy Assistant Professor Ashley Buchanan, as well as numerous graduate students and undergraduate students. Vadiveloo also partners with Dr. Anne Thorndike an associate physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, whose research interests are in the prevention and treatm ent of obesity through lifestyle modification and behavioral-economics informed interventions.

“Regardless of who you are, everyone has to eat.” - Maya Vadiveloo

| 22 | The University of Rhode Island { Momentum: Research & Innovation }

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