Fairview Health Systems Commitment to Healthy Behaviors

This past Monday, Fairview Health Services stopped selling sugary beverages in all of its hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. This includes all Fairview cafeterias, vending machines, gift shops and retail spaces. No soft drinks. No sugary sports drinks. Sugar-free syrups replaced all sugared syrups in coffee shops. While this doesn’t prohibit guests from bringing in their own sugary drinks, and some patients still might need a sugar-sweetened beverage due to a medical condition, Fairview Health Services has taken a definitive stand against sugar.

This announcement is definitely newsworthy. However, Fairview has been taking steady steps in “improving their community health strategy.” In 2016, Fairview was recognized by the Partnership for Healthier America (PHA) with the Healthier Future Award because of its efforts to provide healthy alternatives for its staff and patients. In the past year, Fairview Health Services has labeled all items with calorie and nutrition information, provided healthier items closer to check outs, removed fryers and all deep-fried foods, and is offering more than 350 selections that meet certain nutritional standards at each of its hospitals and clinics. It was a tremendous effort that puts a significant focus on creating positive behavior change.

By removing the temptations of sugar and fried foods, Fairview Health Services is providing options for healthier behaviors. By doing so they can also foster and grow their mission. Carolyn Jacobson, Chief Human Resources Officer, said it best,

“As a health system, it is important to model healthy behaviors when it comes to food and beverage options. It’s our mission to heal, discover and educate for longer, healthier lives.”

When brands take big steps to help guide consumers into healthy choices, there is always a push back at first. Pundits and naysayers say, “It won’t work. People will do what they want to do. They [the brand] will suffer the loss of customers and revenue. It’s a crazy stunt that will be undone when they realize the mistake.” But, these efforts resonate with Conscious Consumers.

When we started studying Conscious Consumers, we uncovered that people are looking for coaches, beacons and advisors to help guide the way. In our fast-paced world, Conscious Consumers look to experts to provide a healthy path of least resistance. It’s one less thing to think about and one less decision to make. In the case of Fairview and its removal of sugary drinks, it’s the adage of “If you can’t see it, you might not want it”.

Fairview is one of many big brands helping to influence positive, healthy behaviors. In October 2014, CVS Pharmacy stopped selling tobacco products in more than 7,600 stores nationwide. At the time, naysayers projected that CVS would lose millions in tobacco revenue. But, the exact opposite happened. CVS found that in the eight months after stopping the sale of tobacco products there was measurable, positive impact on public health. There was an additional one percent reduction in cigarette pack sales across all retailers in states where CVS Pharmacy had a 15 percent or greater share of the retail pharmacy market, compared to states with no CVS Pharmacy stores.

What’s the lesson?
We’ve written many times in this blog about how brands need to do more than just offer a service or product. We’ve uncovered many insights as to why Conscious Consumers are looking for transparency and place their dollars with companies who hold true to their promises. For health and wellness brands, the challenge and commitment to wellbeing goes deeper. Beyond being transparent, they need be advocates for healthy behaviors. They need to walk the walk and talk the talk. It’s these everyday commitments to healthy lifestyle choices that build brand trust and loyalty overtime. I applaud Fairview Health Services in their ongoing steps to influence healthy behaviors and I’m hopeful that others will follow suit.

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