Launched in Fall 2015, Scout Labs is a social innovation initiative that uses the design thinking methodology to define and research social issues in Boston, as well as prototype and test potential solutions. Scout Labs is a team within Scout, Northeastern's student-run design studio. I was a founding member.
At the end of this yearlong project, we designed a pilot program that would promote the purchase of produce in community-oriented corner stores. We reached out to several corner store owners, and are currently partnering with a family-owned store to create a food display placed in a prominent location within the store. As we implement this program, we hope to keep tracking sales from the corner stores and follow up with participants in the program to be able to measure any impact.
Before arriving in this particular domain, we researched potential areas of focus, such as education, food, and transportation. After meeting with various academic and field experts, we decided we could have the most impact in food-related issues. Specifically, we focused on promoting healthy food behavior in low-income communities.
To gain a deeper understanding of the problem, we conducted interviews at grocery stores in our target neighborhood, talked to professors, and talked to other groups working in this space. After gathering all of this information, we determined that a design intervention at the point of purchase could be the most feasible and impactful approach. Corner stores are a great setting for this kind of change in behavior, because of their strong ties with the community and their flexibility. Above is a "journey map" of a corner store customer; using this tool we were able to identify the intervention point.
We designed and built a produce display, replacing a chips stand, and moving produce from the back of the store to a more prominent and enticing location in the front; we also designed recipe cards for customers to pick up. The pilot program ran for two weeks at the corner store in Roxbury, garnering particular interest from kids. The final result: