PROJECT BACKGROUND & RESEARCH APPROACH Whole Foods Market is interested in bringing a healthy lifestyle, with anemphasis on healthy eating, to US college students. Team Ampersand interviewed nineteen undergrad and grad studentsranging in age from 19 to 35 in the San Francisco Bay Area. In additionto the interview, we conducted a collage activity with them to learn moreabout their motivations and ideas about food and health. From this data, we formulated insights that led us to our final concepts.
INSIGHTS Our first key insight is that a students primary need for convenienceoften conflicts with a desire for food that is healthier, varied, and/or local. Secondly, we found that students desire to feel connected to smaller,simpler methods of food production, such as was practiced in the past,conflicts with the reality of being modern urban dwellers.
INSIGHTS: PERSONASWe identified four personas in the course of our research: HIPSTER HUNTERS value CONVENIENT POLITICIANS are the experience of discovering well versed in contemporary specialized and obscure food politics and aspire to live items and may lose interest according to certain ideals but when something becomes too will ultimately compromise to mainstream. go with what is convenient. RUSTIC GOURMETS have a CREATURES OF HABIT are sophisticated palate while comforted by routines and a valuing a connection to the nostalgia for the way things land and natural methods of were when they were growing food production. up.
CONCEPTSWe see the main area of opportunity as providing a convenient wayfor students to eat healthier. The concept should appeal to studentsemotionally to keep them interested. It should take into account theirneeds and desires. It should address student desire to indulge while eatinghealthy, experience a sense of variety, and be connected to a sense ofplace.Our recommendation is an integrated system of a Whole Foods MobileMarket and Website. The Mobile Market will bring the farmers marketexperience of fresh, local, healthy food directly to time-strapped students,and the Website will be a tool for community, education, and connection.
OBJECTIVE We wanted to explore the attitudes and behaviors of college studentstowards healthy eating, see where the organic grocery Whole Foods fit intothe picture, and propose a fresh solution to address the insights that weuncovered in our research. We felt that our target audience of college students aged 19 to 35 wasimportant to research because of their presumed roles as future leaders.With higher education, they are more likely to attain positions of influence,be role models and be prominent members of their communities. Targetingthis population could have a significant trickle-down effect as concernsabout health care costs associated with diet-related illnesses skyrocket.
KEY QUESTIONS We formulated four key questions that served as the basis of ourresearch. 1) In addition to budget, what factors determine what foods students eatand buy, and what role does cultural background play in determining thesehabits? 2) How do students define healthy eating and lifestyle and where do theyget their information from? 3) What prompted any drastic changes to students wellness habits? 4) How do food trends start and disseminate among students?
PARTICIPANTS PROFILEOur participants ranged in age from 19 to 35 and included undergrads andgrad students in the SF Bay Area.GIO, 27 MARISSA, 29 COURTNEY, 19 DANA, 27 EMILY, 19 TAYLOR, 29GRAD STUDENT GRAD STUDENT UNDERGRAD STUDENT UNDERGRAD STUDENT UNDERGRAD STUDENT GRAD STUDENTREEM, 26 JOSH, 26 RACHEL, 29GRAD STUDENT UNDERGRAD STUDENT GRAD STUDENTROBIN, 22 ROBERT, 35 NEIL, 35 MARINA, 30 BO, 25 KEVIN, 32UNDERGRAD STUDENT GRAD STUDENT GRAD STUDENT GRAD STUDENT GRAD STUDENT GRAD STUDENT
Team Ampersand took a diversified approach to our research on the healthhabits of college students, trying out several different methods beforesettling on our final tools. In addition to the final main collage activity andin-person interview, we set up an online food journal on a Facebook page,shadowed students while they shopped at Whole Foods, watched studentseating, conducted refrigerator inspections, set up a Polyvore collection withthe intention of doing Skype interviews and online collages, interviewed acollege cafe manager and reached out to a New York Times food writer.
The purpose of the collage activity and interview was to gather somedata about what kinds of foods students ate on a regular basis and whatthey considered healthy and unhealthy. The collage activity, which was donebefore the interview, also served as a good starting point for a discussionof student habits since it got respondents thinking about why they madecertain decisions. We interviewed people in their homes as well as in public dining places.
For our collageactivity we tried tochoose a varietyof images thatwere ambiguousenough to appealto different peoplesinterpretations. Forexample, we useddifferent imagesof salads, a regulargreen salad and aless healthy saladwith dressing. Here isa graph showing thefoods that respondentstalked about themost and what theyconsidered healthy. Reliability Rating
Once we finished the interviews, we wrote quotes and findings on Post-itnotes and created an immersive space. We then clustered our findings intosimilar categories and from those groupings determined our key insights.
• A students primary need for convenience often conflicts with a desirefor food that is healthier, varied, and/or local. • Students desire to feel connected to smaller, simpler methods of foodproduction and packaging, such as was practiced in the past, conflicts withthe reality of being modern urban dwellers.
We charted these insights into a model showing the conflict betweenconvenience and slow food, exploration and nostalgia. We identified four personas in the course of our research that inhabiteddifferent parts of our model: CONVENIENT POLITICIANS are well versed in contemporary foodpolitics and aspire to live according to certain ideals but will ultimatelycompromise to go with what is convenient. RUSTIC GOURMETS have a sophisticated palate while valuing aconnection to the land and natural methods of food production. HIPSTER HUNTERS value the experience of discovering specializedand obscure items and may lose interest when something becomes toomainstream. CREATURES OF HABIT are comforted by routines and a nostalgia for theway things were when they were growing up.
Regardless of differences in students food preferences, all of themuniversally expressed that convenience was the most important factor indetermining what, where and how they ate. Everyone talked about beingconstrained by time and location and would often end up eating the samefew things week after week, which created boredom and lack of pleasurein eating. Budget restriction was a significant factor but not as much as alack of time. Some would desire to eat differently and were conscious ofcompromising because of a lack of time.
Many students expressed a desire to eat healthier than they do andsome expressed guilt that they do not eat as healthy as they know thatthey should while they are in school. A correlation was made between thisand their time restriction. One respondent observed, "The less time Ihave, the less healthy I eat” and another said “Being in college made meunhealthy.” Healthy food was variably defned as fresh, unprocessed, local, balanced,a variety of foods, moderate portion sizes, and sustainably produced.
Students would turn on a brand as it got bigger as they perceived thecompany as being more interested in moving product than paying attentionto the nutritional content and quality of the product. Foods that were localand came from smaller producers were thought to be more nutritious.One respondent said “The relationship between food and place is moreimportant than organic.” Another said “I never make it to the farmersmarket because its out of my way. I like it in theory though.”
Similarly, students expressed preferences for foods that were notprepared in bulk, as bulk implied a lack of attention to quality andnutritional content. Food preferences included lunches prepared in cafes aswell as artisanal packaged products. The less packaging something had,the more it was perceived to be natural and less processed.
Students will treat themselves and rationalize eating something thatappeals to them emotionally even though they think it is unhealthy. Forexample, some respondents considered beer and chocolate to be healthybecause it made them happy, and "happy is healthy."
Key areas of opportunity lie in providing a way for students to obtain “slowfood” quickly and conveniently. It should appeal to their sense of nostalgiawhile offering something new. It should appeal to their emotional as well asrational sides. The concept should meet student desire to feel a sense ofindulgence, experience a sense of variety and surprise as well as meet theirdesire to be connected to a sense of place. As future leaders, there shouldbe an educational opportunity for them.
Our first recommended solution is a Whole Foods Mobile Market. Aclean running biodiesel vehicle, the Mobile Market will bring the fun of thefarmers market experience directly to time-strapped students. In additionto providing healthy meals from seasonal ingredients, it will featureproduce and products from a rotating roster of local farms. First andforemost, it will be convenient, catering to all students regardless of theirother preferences. It will satisfy student desire for sustainably produced,local, and healthy foods. It will provide a variety of changing products tokeep students interested and coming back as well as have some consistentinventory for those who prefer routine. It will satisfy student desire toindulge and treat themselves, but to feel good about doing it. The formatof the vehicle will tap into the current vogue for high-end food trucks aswell as a nostalgia for vehicles such as ice cream trucks. It will be anambassador for Whole Foods to connect with a community beyond its fewstore locations. To differentiate it from the stores, it will be a lab of sorts,showcasing vendors and farms that Whole Foods is considering featuring inits stores.
The Mobile Market will have a companion website. The site will be a toolfor connection, education, and community. Through the site, students willbe able to locate the truck and see its schedule as it moves around the city.They will be able to learn about featured products, the farms they comefrom, and how to maintain a balanced diet that is good for them and theplanet. They will be able to provide feedback about the items featured onthe truck, creating a sense of ownership and empowerment. Students willbe able to create a profile where they will be able to design a healthy diet.The site will make suggestions for the student and help them learn in a waythat is interactive, hip, and engaging. + WHOLE FOODS MOBILE MARKET MOBILE MARKET WEBSITE
Through the Mobile Market and Website, Whole Foods will have theopportunity to improve student health and wellness while enhancing itsposition as a company connecting small farms to urbanites.
PARTNERSHIPS WITH LOCAL FARMS LOCAL PRODUCTS CONNECTION TO COMMUNITYFARMERS MARKET COMMUNITY ANDEXPERIENCE EDUCATION- CONVENIENT - MENU BUILDING- LOCAL FARM FRESH - FARM INFORMATION- HEALTHY - FEEDBACK- A TREAT - SCHEDULE / LOCATION
Another concept we considered is an interactive vending machine.As well as providing healthy farm fresh food, the act of getting the foodwill include a gesture that mimics the act of picking fruit. The machinewill have educational components like a live video stream connecting theproduce to the farm it came from.