A systematic review of factors that influence food store owner and manager decision making and ability or willingness to use choice architecture and marketing mix strategies to encourage healthy consumer purchases in the United States, 2005–2017


Background Altering food store environments is a promising approach to encourage healthy product purchases by consumers to improve their diet quality and health. Food store owners and managers are intermediaries to ensure that environmental changes are enacted. Despite their role as gatekeepers to implement and sustain healthy food environment changes, no systematic review has been published that examines food store owner and manager (retailer) data. Thus a review of retailer information available within the expansive United States (US) food environment literature was the purpose of this research.

Methods The PRISMA protocol was used. A search strategy, including published articles from years 1980–2017, was applied to six databases to locate relevant articles that addressed the perspective of food store retailers in the US. Data were extracted, organized, and agreed upon between two authors based on pre-designed constructs: (1) a social-ecological model to capture factors that influence retailer decision making; and (2) a marketing-mix and choice-architecture framework to examine perspectives of applied (or the prospective application of) strategies at the store-level. Study quality was assessed using quality criteria checklists for qualitative and quantitative research.

Results Thirty-one articles met inclusion criteria and most studies (n = 22) were qualitative and conducted in urban food stores (n = 23). Multiple social-ecological factors influenced retailer decision making and ability or willingness to use marketing-mix and choice-architecture strategies to improve consumers’ healthy choices to support dietary quality. These factors included: conflicting training outcomes to enhance retailers’ knowledge and skills (individual, n = 9); the importance of trust (interpersonal, n = 8); views about marketing-mix and choice-architecture strategies in the food environment (n = 25); consumer demand or demographics (community, n = 19); supplier and food store management variables (systems or sectors, n = 18); local and federal policy (n = 8); and support for community health (norms/values, n = 8).

Conclusions Research partnerships can support favorable business and public health outcomes to align with retailers’ business models and available resources. A participatory and translational approach to food environment research will likely maximize public health impact. Urban and rural food store retailers are important actors for future research to inform the feasibility of store retailers to apply MMCA strategies that are profitable and promote health.

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2019 Jan 14;16(1):5