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7-Eleven scans palms to check if customers are eating their veggies

It's common knowledge that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables boosts health and longevity. Unfortunately, intake often falls short of recommended daily portions. Instead of just telling people to fill up their plates with plants, 7-Eleven now shows them whether they're eating well. In numerous stores in Japan, the retailer recently introduced Vege-Check — a device that uses reflection spectroscopy to measure carotenoid levels in a person's skin.

Carotenoids include lycopene, which colors tomatoes red, and beta-carotene, which makes carrots orange, and they're decent biomarkers for estimating the amount of fruit and veg someone has eaten. How it works? At participating 7-Eleven stores, customers simply place their palm on a scanner, and within 30 seconds, they're provided with a readout. Their vegetable intake level is displayed on a scale from 1 to 12, with 7 to 8 corresponding to approximately 350 g of daily fruit and veg intake.

While the method isn't as accurate as a blood test, it's noninvasive and a close enough approximation to tell someone whether to eat more greens. Vege-Check and similar devices have been around for several years but have yet to be introduced widely in a retail setting.

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People have heard they need to eat more fruit and vegetables for years, but repeat a message often enough, and it's likely to be tuned out ;) By contrast, the novelty of having one's palm scanned and scored could be a potent motivational tool. 

There's a caveat: factors like genetics, smoking and supplements can influence someone's carotenoid levels, so devices like Vege-Check can't reliably deliver an absolute score for an individual's fruit and vegetable consumption. But they work well for measuring the change in a person's intake over time, making them a natural fit for regular customers. Placed near a grocery store entrance, for instance, with supermarket apps reminding people to check their scores every few weeks.

Beyond the produce aisle, which show-not-tell service could your brand implement to inspire positive behavioral shifts?

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