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Sport Nutrition Vending and the Banana Principle

Picture of Fruit in an Office

One of the things we contend with in the healthy vending business is convincing potential customers that installing machines filled with healthy snack foods can help users change their eating habits. It's a hard concept to explain in a culture that seems to have an unending craving for unhealthy foods. Perhaps explaining the Banana Principle would help make the point.

The Banana Principle, so named by staff at Weight Watchers International, is not at all complex. In fact, it's easily observable in break rooms throughout the Weight Watchers organisation. A great article in the Harvard Business Review explains the principle in detail. Are you curious? So were we.

Free Fruit for Employees

In order to promote healthy eating habits among its employees, Weight Watchers International apparently offers free fruit in its break rooms. One of the employees behind the Harvard Business Review article noticed that, regardless of the variety of fruits offered at his office, the bananas were always gone first.

He mentioned it to a colleague who said she observed the same thing throughout the Weight Watchers organisation. So they set out to try to understand why. Care to guess what they concluded? Bananas always went first because they were the most convenient choice.

Employee Jordan Cohen explained the Banana Principle by comparing what it takes to peel a banana as compared to an orange. If all things are equal, the banana is a lot easier to eat. You can peel it a lot easier, there's no stickiness or mess, and it's easy to eat the fruit, on-the-go, after it's peeled. As delicious as oranges might be, they are also less convenient.

Making Change Easy

Weight Watchers' Banana Principle boils down to making change easy. Cohen further illustrated the principle by talking about friction. Where there is less friction there's greater efficiency, and vice versa. Friction reduces efficiency whether you're talking about a car going down the street or a skate gliding across the ice.

The point of all of this boils down to how organisations go about facilitating change. If a company wants its employees to start practising healthy eating habits, what can it do to facilitate that change. What can it do to make the change easier?

Installing healthy vending machines featuring sport nutrition products is a good place to start. We can tell you from the success of our own business that it works. Sport nutrition vending may not be a solution all by itself, but it can be one part of a much larger solution.

Given the choice between a chocolate bar and a protein bar, someone in your office is likely to make his or her choice based on convenience first. If both products are wrapped the exact same way, and they are both presented as bars, convenience is no longer a question. Now that person starts thinking about other things. If healthy food choices are on his/her mind, he/she'll go with the protein bar. That's how this works.

Sources:

Harvard Business Review – https://hbr.org/2017/12/to-get-people-to-change-make-change-easy