Discovery Vitality “tricks” the brain into healthier habits

Discovery Vitality tries to “trick” its members into sustaining their healthy habits by bringing rewards for behaviour changes into the present, giving clients instant gratification for activities that have long-term benefits.

Discovery Vitality South Africa CEO Dinesh Govender told Daily Investor that it is very difficult to keep people motivated to pursue habits that will have benefits for them only in the long term.

People fall off the wagon and take the path of least resistance for immediate gratification — whether having an ice cream, a piece of chocolate, or scrolling on social media.

To help members make long-term behavioural changes that will benefit their health, Vitality has “got to trick the brain” by bringing rewards typically felt in the long term into the present.

It does this through a combination of its micro-rewards, such as smoothies and Discovery Miles, which are given as immediate gratification and longer-term big rewards, such as free flights with Discovery Travel.

These rewards give a short-term incentive for habits with long-term health benefits while encouraging the healthy habits to continue for longer so Vitality members can receive larger rewards.

Govender explained that it is important for these rewards to be tangible and be felt immediately, giving members instant gratification for exercise, healthy eating, and good financial behaviour.

To this end, in 2023, Discovery gave out 1.44 million coffees and smoothies to members as micro-rewards for healthy habits.

Discovery members also spent 7.42 billion miles in 2023, which they received as rewards for behavioural changes.

Vitality’s efforts to help members sustain healthy habits resulted in over 8,000 members achieving exercise goal streaks in multiples of 100, with nearly 2,000 sustaining their habits over 300 days.

Govender said this ties in with Discovery’s overarching mission to make people healthier and more financially responsible through Vitality.

The company aims to make its rewards and nudges more personal through machine learning and artificial intelligence to keep people engaged and live better lives.

In 2024, Vitality will expand its offering by launching its Vitality Fitness platform later in the year to make it even easier for members to engage in physical activity.

Its HealthyFood partnership with Checkers and Sixty60 will go live in September 2024, promising the chance to earn 75% back on healthy food items.

Vitality members get up to 25% back on their grocery spend on thousands of healthy food items at partners Woolworths and Pick n Pay.

These rewards are boosted for Discovery Bank clients who get up to 75% back. Last year, members were rewarded with over 70 million healthy food items on the benefit.


This article was first published by Daily Investor and is reproduced with permission.

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Discovery Vitality “tricks” the brain into healthier habits