Research type 
UK wide
Year of report 

Summary of findings


Fruit and vegetables shopping at the convenience store

Most consumers in the pilot areas do not see their convenience store as a place to buy fruit and vegetables.  Therefore, the Campaign has to fundamentally change consumer views and behaviour to succeed in encouraging people to buy more fruit and vegetables there. 

For example, 94% of customers in the pilot areas visit their convenience store every week, but they do not generally buy fruit or vegetables during their visits: 


  • 43% have ever bought fruit and vegetables from their convenience store
  • 28% bought fruit or vegetables on any of their last three visits
  • 4% bought fruit or vegetables on the day they were interviewed, but half of these bought potatoes (i.e. not Five A Day)
  • However, 21% of people who do most of their shopping at the convenience store bought fruit or vegetables on the day they were interviewed compared to 4% of top-up shoppers.


People who never purchase fruit and vegetables from their convenience store were asked why:


  • 29% think they could getting it cheaper elsewhere
  • 23% do not associate their convenience store with buying fruit or vegetables
  • 14% think the selection is poor, but top-up shoppers are more likely than those who rely on their convenience store for their shopping to consider the selection poor (15% compared to 4%)


Qualitative findings suggest that many consumers in the pilot areas get their fruit and vegetables from a large supermarket and see their local convenience store as expensive for fruit and vegetables shopping

Awareness of the in-store Campaign

Both qualitative and quantitative findings show consumers using Development Stores are more likely to notice the Campaign than those using Roll-out Stores: 


  • 19% spontaneously recalls having seen the Campaign in Development Stores and a further 8% recalls the Campaign when prompted.  
  • 5% spontaneously recalls the Campaign in the Roll-out Stores, while a 5% recalls the Campaign when prompted


Our qualitative findings suggest that this is because the displays in Development Stores are near the entrance or next to the check-out tills and thus more prominent.  Displays are often out of immediate view in Roll-out stores (e.g. at the back of the store).

Impact of the in-store Campaign

The Campaign has a more marked impact in Development Stores than Roll-out Stores, albeit it has an impact in both store types.  Overall, the Campaign serves to position the convenience store as:


  • Offering a wide range of good quality fruit and vegetables (42%)
  • Displaying fruit and vegetables in an appealing / hard-to-miss way (47%)
  • Stocking fruit and vegetables customers want to buy (39%)
  • A place to buy fruit and vegetables (35%)


Consumers in the pilot area are aware of the Change4Life Campaign message.  The in-store Campaign helps to promote the Campaign:


  • 55% of Development Store shoppers are aware of the Campaign before the in-store activity compared to 66% afterwards
  • 49% of Roll-out Store shoppers are aware of the Campaign before the in-store activity compared to 55% afterwards


However, there is no discernable impact of the Campaign on buying fruit and vegetables.  There is a slight increase among Development Store shoppers in the proportion who said they had bough fruit and vegetables at least once in their last three shops (33% post compared to 25% pre)

This may be because the Change4Life Campaign is associated primarily with promoting healthy eating generally, rather than Five A Day more specifically among shoppers in all store-types. Qualitative findings also suggest that some consumers think the Campaign targets families with young children and not them.

Consumers in the pilot areas also encounter numerous barriers to adopting the Five A Day message. Around 80% of consumers in the pilot areas know the 5 A DAY message, but only one in four comply with it.  Those who rely on the convenience store are slightly more likely than top-up shoppers to say they eat the required amount of fruit and vegetables (33% compared to 25%).

Our qualitative findings suggest that many customers in the pilot areas:


  • Do not know what counts as ‘a portion’ in terms of size and type of fruit and vegetables
  • Assume that it has to be fresh fruit and vegetables rather than canned or frozen
  • Do not know that fruit juice can count as a single portion each day
  • Do not know that potatoes do not count towards their 5 A DAY
  • Do not know that they should eat three portions of vegetables and two of fruit
  • Do not know how to recognise and prepare many kinds of fruit and vegetables, especially more exotic varieties such as courgettes or kiwi fruit
  • Find it difficult to get the family to eat fruit and vegetables
  • Think Five A Day is a guideline rather than a rule (i.e. three portions of fruit and vegetables are good enough)
  • Tackling other challenges takes a higher priority (e.g. alcohol and drug misuse)


Overall, the Campaign has caught people’s attention, helped to raise awareness of the Change4Life campaign, and enhanced perceptions of the Convenience stores in which it has been implemented, especially the Development Stores.  However, it is too soon to say how much of an impact it has had on the attitudes and behaviour in terms of the consumption of fruit and vegetables


Research objectives


The broad aim of this research was to gain a deep understanding of the potential of the fresh fruit and vegetable market in deprived areas of the UK.  This understanding could then be used:

  • To inform the future direction of the Change4Life convenience stores project
  • As a tool to encourage the sale of healthy food options by convenience store owners/ managers

Specific objectives were to:

  • Provide evidence to support promotion of the scheme to retailers and facilitate roll out of the initiative nationwide
  • Explore the barriers to customers acknowledging and acting upon the in-store Campaign messages




Change4Life is a nationwide social marketing campaign, targeted at parents and aiming to prevent children from becoming overweight in the future by encouraging families to eat more healthily and exercise more. The Association of Convenience Stores is working with the English Department of Health to increase the availability of fruit and vegetables in stores, because many low-income households have limited access to other sources such as supermarkets.  This project was launched in the North East region in November 2008.

Quick summary


Mixed methodology study to assess and compare the impact of the Change4Life Convenience Stores pilot in the North East of England, and to consider the implications for the wider rollout of the programme in future.

Audience Summary





Quant - 16-65+

Qual - 22-60+

Social Class






All fieldwork undertaken in pilot area, NE England, in various towns with the participating stores.  Customers recruited from three different store types:

  1. Development stores – DH supported (via 50% of costs) to demonstrate to other stores how the initiative could look and work in practice.  Development stores aim to ensure that new chiller cabinets are installed; displays are well maintained; fruit and vegetable prominently displayed; single serve portions available at the till.
  2. Roll-out stores – less substantial changes made mainly in the form of branding materials for stands and point of sale displays.
  3. Control stores – not promoting Change4Life Campaign in any way and assessed to provide a benchmark against which to measure the success of the initiative.

Quantitative: 2,298 interviews in 18 stores pre and post-rollout.  Customers recruited at the exit of the store after their purchase.  In order to perform a pre and post comparison the research agency ensured the sample was comparable by quota management (having consistent profiles for both stages) and weighting (correcting any difference on sensitive indicators).

Qualitative: 26 in-depth face-to-face interviews in 9 locations across a sample of Development, Roll-out and Control Stores.  Recruitment was independent of quantitative stage, with customers recruited via exit interviews at selected stores.  Each interview lasted 90 mins and compromised:

  • 30 min in-home interview to understand lifestyle and role of food.
  • 30 min accompanied shopping trip to observe spontaneous interaction with Change4Life in-store initiative.
  • 30 min follow-up interview to discuss detailed awareness/engagement with Change4Life Campaign


Data collection methodology

Depth interviews

Other data collection methodology


Accompanied shopping

Fieldwork dates


June - July 1009

Contact Name

Helen Selby


Agree to publish



Research agency


COI Number


Report format