Many parents face a daily problem: their children don’t eat enough vegetables. HAK,one of the largest vegetable brands in Northern Europe, is on a mission to solve this problem, and has introduced The Helping Plate: a plate that helps children to eat more veggies – without knowing it. The Leading Dutch University of Wageningen (WUR)developed scientific insights that informed the design. Creative agency DDB Unlimited developed the idea and is responsible for the campaign.
It’s a familiar challenge for many parents: how do you get your child to eat enough vegetables? In practise, children do not eat more than 73 grammes of veggies per day, on average, while the health guidelines for that age group (ages 4-8) recommend between 100 and 150 grammes of vegetables per day. All the more reason for HAK – a company who has always been on a mission to help get Dutch people to eat more vegetables – to find a creative solution to this problem.
See how the design works
Tasting with our eyes
Dr Betina Piqueras Fiszman, researcher at Wageningen University & Research (WUR), who contributed to gathering a variety of scientific insights: ‘We “taste” with our eyes even before we’ve taken our first bite. How we present our food has a large influence on how we perceive the meal, and on how much we end up consuming of it.’
The Helping Plate does not look like a typical children’s plate, which is exactly as intended. Children mirror their parents, and it is easier to copy their behaviour if the child eats from a similar plate. The rest of the design also makes use of characteristics that – subconsciously – guide the child to eat more vegetables. For example, the larger size and an indentation give the same amount of veggies a smaller ‘footprint’. And the colour shading helps the vegetables to look more appealing.
Trying it out
Nicole Freid, Director of Marketing and Innovation at HAK, hopes that parents and their children will simply try using The Helping Plate: ‘We cannot guarantee that it will work for everyone, but almost all of the families that tested the plate with their children were positive about it. Most parents indicated that it was easier than usual to let the children eat more vegetables. The children also responded positively to the fact that The Helping Plate looks like a real grown-up’s plate. In addition, parents became more aware of how much vegetables they have to serve to meet the requirement of 100-150 grammes/day. We are very curious about the user experiences we will collect over the coming months.’
Luuk Simonse and Leendert-Jan de Ronde, creatives at DDB Unlimited: ‘It’s a big challenge to change children’s behaviour. As we searched for an innovative solution, we discovered that there was still a lot of room for improvement in the way we present vegetables at the table. That’s why we incorporated scientific insights about influencing into the plate’s design. In this way, we created a tangible product that’s available to everyone.’
Maarten Vrouwes, Executive Creative Director at DDB Unlimited: ‘This project shows that creativity can solve problems in a surprising way. Through working with one of the Netherlands’ leading universities, we made some interesting discoveries, like the fact that children are instinctively programmed to copy their parent’s behaviour. Which helped us to look at the problem in a different way. We normally apply science and data to our advertising, but to apply it to design was a new and exciting step for us.’
The Helping Plate was designed by Waarmakers Studio and is produced in the Netherlands by Royal Goedewaagen. It is for sale at de Bijenkorf,the Netherlands’ most prestigious department store and can be found in its webshop and in in-store when the shops reopen.
Concept and creative execution: DDB Unlimited
Research: Wageningen University & Research
Product design: Waarmakers Studio
Plate production: Royal Goedewaagen
More information about the design
The plate works based on several scientific principles:
A child’s brain continuously mirrors its parents’ behaviour. That’s why the plate is not brightly coloured and made of plastic with decorations, but round and ceramic – just like Mom and Dad’s plates. This makes it easier for the child to follow the parents’ healthy eating habits.
The plate is bigger than a regular children’s plate, which makes the serving of veggies seem smaller. This helps the brain think that the meal will be easy to finish. This effect, known as the Delboeuf illusion, is reinforced by omitting a raised, colourful edge.
More = more
If there is more of something on your plate, you’ll automatically eat more of it. An indentation in the plate lets you serve more vegetables, but it won’t look like more.
The path of least resistance
Food served closer to you is more likely to end up in your stomach. That’s why the indentation for the vegetables was designed so that parents can place it closest to their child.
Tastier by colour
A white background makes our brains see the vegetables as more appetising, which also improves the taste experience. The place where the veggies are served is the whitest area on the plate. This helps make the greens even more attractive compared to the rest of the meal.