WIC Recipients in the Retail Environment: A Qualitative Study Assessing Customer Experience and Satisfaction.
Journal Article (Journal Article)
BackgroundThe Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program is an important intervention for prevention and treatment of obesity and food insecurity, but participation has dropped among eligible populations from 2009 to 2015. Program satisfaction is integral to participant retention, and the retail experience is a vital component of program satisfaction.
ObjectiveThis article applies behavioral economics principles to explore the retail experience of WIC participants and ways in which it may be improved.
DesignThe authors designed and conducted semistructured interviews and focus groups with WIC participants.
Participants/settingA convenience sample of WIC participants aged 18 years and older were recruited through WIC clinics in Texas, North Carolina, Oregon, and Illinois (n=55, 27 participants from four focus groups and 28 individual interviews).
Statistical analysis conductedResponses were analyzed qualitatively using principles of content analysis.
ResultsChallenges in identifying WIC-allowable items throughout the store as well as perceived stigmatization during the checkout process were the chief complaints. Study participants described a learning curve in successful use of WIC in retail environments over time. Study participants also reported acceptance of restrictions, such as a requirement to purchase the least expensive brand.
ConclusionsDissatisfaction with the retail experience may lead to the underutilization of WIC benefits or program exit. Behavioral economics strategies that facilitate a better shopping experience, such as creating a section for WIC items in the store or improving in-store education, may improve the retail experience for WIC customers. Further research is needed to ensure such strategies are effective and do not contribute to stigma.
- Chauvenet, C; De Marco, M; Barnes, C; Ammerman, AS
- March 2019
Volume / Issue
- 119 / 3
Start / End Page
- 416 - 424.e2
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)