Walmart, neuroscience design firm partner to launch nutrition behavior app in stores

Fresh Tri is designed to offer practical behavior suggestions and keep users engaged in spite of setbacks.
By Dave Muoio
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Fresh Tri, a healthy behavior app developed through a partnership between neuroscience-focused design firm engagedIN and Walmart, will be rolled out this week for Walmart employees staffing 4,700 retail locations, the two companies announced here at Health 2.0 in Santa Clara, California.

The app, which has already been tested by thousands of Walmart associates, encourages users to set specific nutritional goals for themselves, and then surfaces practical suggestions written by others users on how they could be achieved — for instance, a goal to reduce junk food consumption could generate a tip to instead try apple slices with peanut butter.

Alongside these features, the employee and consumer-focused app prompts users to write in their motivation for completing a nutrition goal. Importantly, though, the app doesn’t look to punish users for not completing their goals, but to offer numerous different approaches so that the user can find a strategy that works for them.

“For years I’ve been asking why people fail at their behavior change, and the reason why people fail is they quit trying,” Kyra Bobinet, CEO and founder of engagedIN, said on stage. “If people could keep trying, I’m pretty sure that anybody is going to have a breakthrough, so our whole thesis is basically to go from goals to practice, and from failure to iteration. That’s what we find to be successful, and when we were working with Walmart associates, what we found was that the people who succeeded in changing their behavior had one thing in common, and that’s that they iterated.”

David Hoke, senior director of associate health and wellbeing at Wallmart, said that the retailer’s partnership with engagedIN represents its ongoing investigation into what he described as “applied behavior change,” an alternative approach to employee health he said is necessary for the company due to the diverse and often unstable circumstances of its retail associates.

“When you get to Walmart and you step back and look at the breadth of associates we have … you have to start challenging all the pillars that you started with,” he said on stage. “We had tenets that we have attached health promotion, health education, and health improvement to. Things like, you must be on a medical plan, and benefits. What we saw was this entire ecosystem of people, some of whom were on a plan and some of whom weren’t.”

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