Tommy Reinholdsson, doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg, has, together with researchers from GU and KTH, investigated the effects of nudging to increase people’s attention to a particular alternative. They are looking into whether hamburger restaurant Max can increase its sales of vegetarian and vegan food by adding a nudge to the menu. A nudge means “pushing” or nudging the consumer in a desired direction by making a particular item appear more attractive.

In this study, four nudges, which were placed in the self-order screens, were used to sell more vegetarian and vegan food at Max:
1. “Many here choose green!” which alludes to descriptive social norms, as people tend to follow choices they perceive as common.
2. “The green option tastes good!” which alludes to hedonistic values, i.e. taste in this case.
3. “The green option feels good!” which alludes to both descriptive norms and hedonistic values, i.e. that it feels better to make a better choice.
4. Change the location in the menu so that the vegetarian food is first in the menu.

The taste-nudge is most effective
The amount of impressions in our everyday lives can make it difficult to know the effect of nudging in reality.
– Despite this, our study shows that with very small means, we can increase the proportion of vegetarian choices in a context where small effects over time can become a major effect on what we are jointly interested in changing, says Tommy Reinholdsson.
The study shows that the nudge that worked best, the taste-nudge, could result in an increase of 140 000 vegetarian sales in a year at Max.

Perhaps nudging can be a way to change today’s unsustainable and unhealthy consumption habits and instead contribute to better choices for both consumers and the environment.

The results of the study are particularly interesting for actors in industries that use similar menu systems as Max, but also for researchers in the subject.

Freja Handler

Read the whole article here: ”Nudging green food: The effects of a hedonic cue, menu position, a warm-glow cue, and a descriptive norm” här.

Tommy Reinholdsson, Doctoral Student, Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg
031-786 46 94

Åsa Svenfelt, Docent, The Department of Sustainable Development, Environmental Science and Engineering, KTH
+46 8 790 8818



Freja Handler