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We study the impact of policy on consumer behavior.

One way we do this is through designing a Mini Mart, a 245-square-foot convenience store. Take a look below to see how we are driving impact in policy design and consumer behavior. 

The UNC Mini Mart was designed to provide a controlled environment for researchers to study and experimentally evaluate the impact of point-of-sale policies and interventions on consumer behavior. The convenience story laboratory can hold 300+ unique products, allowing study participants to buy and take products home for personal consumption. Two researchers, Dr. Marissa Hall and Dr. Lindsey Smith Taillie designed the Mini Mart with the mindset that it can support effective policy design in the public health realm. Click on Dr. Hall's and Dr. Taillie's photos to learn more about their background in policy-oriented research. 

Designing the UNC Mini Mart

Reducing Sugary Drink Consumption

The UNC Mini Mart has successfully been used to evaluate policy approaches for reducing sugary drink consumption. 

Pictorial warnings on tobacco products are promising for motivating behavior change, but few studies have examined pictorial warnings for sugary drinks, especially in naturalistic environments. This study aimed to examine the impact of pictorial warnings on parents’ purchases of sugary drinks for their children in a naturalistic store laboratory.

Our research suggests that pictorial warnings reduced parents’ purchases of sugary drinks for their children in this naturalistic trial, and warnings on sugary drinks are a promising policy approach to reduce sugary drink purchasing in the US.

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Other Possible Applications

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Other possible applications include research about ultra-processed food, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, alcohol, and red meat. Researchers could test numerous point-of-sale policies and interventions in the Mini Mart, including pricing policies, product or point-of-sale warning labels, marketing restrictions, and voluntary actions (e.g., placing healthy products rather than unhealthy products near the register).


The Mini Mart will be used in a funded grant from the National Institutes of Health to test claims on CBD packaging. Click below to learn more about the project. 

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Related Publications


The impact of pictorial health warnings on purchases of sugary drinks for children: A randomized controlled trial


Hall, Grummon, Higgins, Lazard, Prestemon, Avendaño-Galdamez, & Taillie


Using a naturalistic store laboratory for clinical trials of point-of-sale nutrition policies and interventions: A feasibility and validation study


Hall, Higgins, Grummon, Lazard, Prestemon, Sheldon, and Taillie

The Mini Mart in the Media


A mock grocery store in Chapel Hill studies how graphic health labels changes the way people buy food


Would you buy a soda with a dying foot on the label? UNC researchers want to find out.

Learn More


The Mini Mart is located at the following address: 


UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

1700 MLK Jr. Blvd

Chapel Hill, NC 27514


If you are interested in learning more the Mini Mart, including using it in your own research, check out our guide for researchers below or email Dr. Hall ( and Dr. Taillie (   

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