Nutrition disclosure on food industry, does it matter!?

Food selection and consumption is a complex phenomenon, influenced by sensory and non-sensory food characteristics and also by labeling, which plays an important role in consumer responses, influencing the expectations and perceptions of the product (Chiou, Yeh, & Chang, 2009; Shepherd, Sparks, & Raats, 1991). Hence, current provision of disclosure food’s nutrition information is one of the most critical elements in foods packaging. Some foods even highlight such kind of information to make it different from others so as to win the consumers. Will these information influence consumers purchasing decision and what’s their response to the nutrition disclosure?

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To begin with, I will briefly talk about the reasons attributing to the nutrition reveal. Nowadays, obesity and health is considered as of great importance among consumers. Therefore, when purchasing food to some extent they will estimate the nutrition amount contained in the food, such as calories, protein and etc. However, research made by the New York Times showed that people generally have difficulty in estimating such nutrition amounts due to the fact that consumers feel surprised by the calorie content of menu items such as some salads and chicken sandwiches, which at times are much less healthful than consumers expect (Tangari, 2010). From early studies, it is proved that consumers tend to: “(1) underestimate calories more for unhealthful meals than healthful meals; (2) overestimate calories in very low-calorie meals. (3) Accuracy of consumers’ calorie estimates will differ across restaurants. Consumers will underestimate calories more for meals from restaurants where their perceptions of healthfulness are less accurate, relative to meals at restaurant where consumers have more accurate perceptions of the healthfulness” (Tangari et al, 2010). According to what mentioned above, providing calorie information appears to be especially important for food and restaurants about which consumers may have a misperception of the healthfulness of the meals in general, as well as for very high-calorie meals.

 

Such bias in estimating calories and nutrition is able to influence consumers purchasing decisions. If you overestimated the amount, consumers are more likely to be positively motivated to purchase the food. While if you underestimate the amount, the purchasing desire will be decreased. Whereas, when it comes to the post- episode consumption, the results of MANOVA indicate that the provision of nutrition information that is contrary to prior expectations can have a significant influence on subsequent food consumption. After consumers have been presented with information that implies the food previously consumed was higher in calories, fat, and saturated fat than expected, fewer calories were consumed in subsequent consumption episodes. The chart below can more intuitively interpret it (Howlett et al, 2012).

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Nevertheless, consumers have different expectations for different products so that not all nutrition disclosures showing healthier consumption will result in an affirmative effect. Taking biscuit for example, consumers’ aim to buy such stuff is to enjoy their afternoon tea or to satisfy a carving for good foods so the taste is the most important factor. Additionally, less calories, more nutrition elements to some degree lay a negative impression on consumers due to the fact that healthier food mostly scarifies its good taste (Carrillo et al, 2012). Therefore, the striking nutrition disclosure of hedonistic-oriented products is possible to hinder consumers’ purchasing decision.

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Then, how can such nutrition disclosure be more beneficial? I concludes two tips.

 

(1)     Mohr and others (2012) proposed that “marketers should consider reducing serving sizes (health framing), especially in product categories or segments in which consumers are calorie conscious.” When conducting promotion, marketers should emphasize more on the nutrition amount and avoid mentioning the weight of a serving.

 

(2)     When packaging and displaying nutrition information, sellers avoid significant disclosure for hedonistic-oriented foods and emphasis more of nutrition amount for foods related to health since consumers do not want to scarifies the taste on such foods.

 

Carts or baskets? = Healthy or unhealthy?

In this week’s blog, I would like to introduce you an amazing theory about the embodied cognition and then link it to the healthy and unhealthy purchasing in supermarkets.

The embodied cognition holds the view that the nature of human’s mind to a large extent is determined by the form of human’s body. In other words, cognition is associated with human’s body behavior  “when it is deeply dependent upon features of the physical body of an agent, that is, when aspects of the agent’s body beyond the brain play a significant causal or physically constitutive role in cognitive processing.” Hence, this point of view indicated that bodily sensations are able to affect human’s mind and thus, changing consumers’ purchasing decisions.

So now I’d like to use it to explain the title question.

Supermarkets usually offer two tools for customers to put what they want to buy —- carts and baskets. What’s your choice? Perhaps you tend to use a cart since it requires less effort. Or maybe you prefer the basket since sometimes you only want to buy little goods. When it comes to the issue of health, it always links to buy less junk foods, like puffed snacks. Have ever thought about the choice of carts and baskets links to the issue and has certain impact on the issue?

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To begin with, carts and baskets, which one do you think can prevent you from buying more unhealthy stuffs?

…… I guess, most of you guys will believe the basket is more likely to hinder the purchasing desire since its capacity is smaller. However, the recent study of Bergh, Schmitt and Warlop (2011) reveal the surprising answer of the question that a cart or a trolley do bolster consumers’ willpower to be healthy!

According to the study, two typical researches have been conducted. The first research observes 136 randomly selected shoppers in a supermarket, taking note of whether they used a shopping cart or grocery basket. Afterward, they viewed each shopper’s receipt, noting the amount of money they spent and the specific products they had purchased. The researchers were tracking “vice products,” which are regarded as unhealthy products. Consequently, Bergh, Schmitt and Warlop (2011) found that “the odds of purchasing vice products at the cashier for a basket shoppers is 6.84 times the odds of purchasing vices for a cart shopper, all other things being equal”.

The second study is based on the observation of 31 women. With regard to the choice in the unhealthy-related category —- “snacks”, women have to choose between a piece of fruit (an apple or orange) and a candy bar (Twix or Mars) while either holding a shopping basket or pushing a shopping cart. The result confirmed the similar conclusion that “Basket shoppers were more likely to choose the vice products than cart shoppers”.

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Hence, the action of using with baskets  contributes to larger tendency of buying  unhealthy treats compared to shopping with carts. Bergh and others’ report (2011) pointed out that flexing your arms, which is the action to pick up a basket, strengthen the possibility of impulsive consumption. Such actions are linked with acquiring desired objects while the arm extension, which is the action to push the cart, symbols rejection to undesired goods on an unconscious level. So to certain degree, basket shoppers are facing with more unhealthy problems.

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After understanding the interesting phenomenon, I think the act of flexing our arm benefits markets. For instance, restaurants will earn more if consumers have to pull the door to enter. Such small tricks seem to positively create more profit! So why not try it!?

References:

Bergh, B.V.D., Schmitt, J. & Warlop, L. 2011, Embodied Myopia, Journal of Marketing Research Article Postprint, http://www.marketingpower.com/AboutAMA/Documents/JMR_Forthcoming/emobodied_myopia.pdf

What affects your choice of sauces ?

Since it is my first year in England I have many things to be adapted to. I find that having meal in a restaurant seems different from what in my home country because no matter what I orders the waiter will always firstly bring me a large number of different kind of sauces or ketchups, even a basket of them. Inspired by it, I will discuss certain links between consumers’ psychology and condiments in this blog.

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Sensory properties is widely used to test consumers liking for condiments, including color hue, acceptability, flavor, mouth feel, tanginess and etc.

To begin with, I will say something about the relationship between consumers’ preference and the visual appearance. Color of the sauces do affect consumers’ perception about the product so as to influence their purchasing decision. In the case of sorrel sauces, Badrie and D’Heureux-Calix (2004) implied that color was the most important factor in senses through their research. They also admitted that the natural bright color contributes to consumers’ preference in food industry. Interestingly, Rapp et al. (2007) concluded an result from their research that the tomato sauce with less butter gave a more colorful impression together with the fried fishes, which appeals more consumers. I think you may like this paring too! So color is really an important element for sauces.

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Furthermore, the acceptability of the sauces is crucial when consumers are choosing them. From my perspective, the overall acceptability is closely related to the mouth feel, products’ texture and etc. Among all this factors, I found that butter is one of the most typical sauces. Why do it matters? The secret is fat! That’s really cool! ‘The first sensory response to fat involves the nose or mouth of fat-soluble volatile flavor molecules and oral perception of fat content is then determined by food texture as sense by oral cavity during chewing or swallowing.’ (Cooper, 1987; Drewnowski, 1987; Blundell et al, 1992) In such a way, fats positively affect consumers’ overall palatability (Drewnowski, 1997). Rapp et al. pointed out that butter can improve consumers’ perceived flavor of sauces. This may largely due to the fact that butter makes the food more tender and smooth which to some extent generates a better mouth-feel. In the meantime, such kind of perception of consumers will also result in the choice of butter based or butter contained foods. However, even though Panovska and others (2009) believe that tomato sauce is a kind of sauce that make consumers desire less for fats, their calculation still revealed that sensory texture acceptability is closely related to the consumers’ overall flavor acceptability.

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Taste is a more complicated sensorydriver for preference since it is showed that consumers have different expectation for different sauces. Namely, for every specific kind of sauces, consumers are seeking for specific flavors. On the basis of Childs, Yates and Drake’s research on dry and wet cheese sauces (2009), it is demonstrated that for both dry and wet sauces salty taste is a leading driver of consumer preference; however, sweet flavor is desired by consumers in wet sauces while consumers like malty and sour flavors more for dry sauces.

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Sauces and ketchups are indispensable in our life. Catch consumers’ sensory is a shortcut to success!

Advertisements on the same product!?

You can see a same product’s advertisement existing in several different ways, such as TV advertisement, billboard, website dynamic posters and etc. Some products, which maybe a brand’s classic product, is advertised by more than one advertisement and it will change to a new one after a period of time. Why merchants are doing this? Undoubtedly, it has close association with consumers. In this week’s blog I will briefly explain this phenomenon.

The sleeper effect: the influence on attitudes by a highly persuasive message or a discounting cue recedes overtime as a whole. While a discounting cue‘s impact on human’s attitude will increase overtime. Normally in three weeks’ time, the influence on human’s attitude caused by highly persuasive messages and discounting cues have no differences (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993).

The proper repetition is important. To complicated things, reiteration can get more appreciation. Simple stimulus forms Monotone stimulus which lowers consumers’ attention and acceptance.

So this is Channel No.5’s TV commercial advertisement in UK in 1970.

This is the latest TV commercial advertisement.

Taking Channel as an example, to retain the hot sale of its classic perfume Channel No.5 it has changed its TV commercial from time to time. On one hand, advertisements can be a discounting cue to consumers. The repeating occurrence of its posters, TV commercials will help consumers to gain more and more information about it. On the other hand, to avoid becoming a simple stimulus, Channel chooses to change its advertisements. From the earliest one in 1970 to the Brad Peter’s latest one, these advertisements to some extent contribute to Channel No.5’s sales myth.

What’s more, in recent weeks, from reading others’ blogs, I also find that there are several elements can devote to the success of the advertisement. The first element can be celebrity. Friedman and Friedman (1979) have pointed out that the use of celebrity spokesmen can increase the believability. The physical attractiveness of the celebrity is proved to be a good way to appeal consumers (Kahle & Homer, 1984). Secondly, the background music also makes sense in advertisements since certain types of music can make consumer associate with certain situations. For example, classic music may cause consumers to regard the product as high-quality and in a high class (Areni & Kim, 1993). Thirdly, the spot in the advertisement do help to catch consumers’ attention. Humor and suspension can be a good choice to arouse consumers’ interests. Fourthly, some fluffy, lovely objects can also increase the preference of consumers. Many TV commercials choose to use animals as their spokesmen.

From my perspective, advertising is a critical part in consumer psychology. There is much stuff we can explore. Welcome to all of your ideas!

Cannot stop eating Snacks!?

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Wow! Are these your favourite snacks?

Are these the stuff you cannot stop eating even though you have already have a meal?

Do you tend to eat more when you are facing lots of homework? Or when the report deadline is approaching?

Since last week was the grievous reading week, I have found that I consumed lots of snacks, almost twice more than before. I started to think about the consumer psychology behind the hot sale of snacks. In this blog I will discuss the reason why we would like to eat snacks even though we have already had a meal and my own explanation to the phenomenon that when we are under pressure, anxiety, we tend to eat more snacks.

So first, why do we eat snacks after meals?

Perhaps it is indeed because we are feeling hungry. Carving thoughts for snacks after a meal exist for the reason that our body is telling us to give it more energy. This process is linked with a kind of hormones, namely ghrelin. It is a key hormone involved in appetite regulation. If you have not eaten enough, your stomach will release ghrelin, which travels to your brain and makes you think of food. However, it takes certain time for us to recognize we are full after we are physically full (Cormier, 2010). So sometimes it can be a trick made by your cognition.

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On the other hand, we eat that just because we can easily get it or it stands in front of our eyes. This can be explained by the evolutionary psychology, which demonstrates that before modern civilization it was hard to get food so when human is lucky enough to get food they would tend to eat over. This proved that we are able to move on to snacks as soon as we finish our savory meal (Jacoby, 2009). Therefore, the accessible snacks like chocolates, candies, crisps and etc. in our cupboard are always our choices. This is similar to Cohen and Farley’s perspective, which thinks that people tend to have snacks because of automatic eating behaviors. Eating does not need conscious effort. So human’s eating snacks is simply because they see it which stimulates their desire for the sweet, salty tastes.

So do you realize that you consume snacks not because you really need it or it fills your stomach? People purchase snacks may initially think it can be a choice when they are in a hunger but as a matter of fact people eat it just because they see it and they are greedy! Snack retailers are making lots of profit due to such psychological phenomenon!

Then I’ll present my own idea for the reason why we would like to intake snacks when we are studying and under certain pressure. Basically, the process of studying accelerates energy consumption since brain cells are more active biologically and this increases metabolism. So under such circumstances, we are more likely to feel hungry. Moreover, eating can be a good way to transfer our attention. After the long time tension of our brain, we tend to alleviate our work strain by eating. Waterhouse et al. (2005) have confirmed that when people are under pressure, the frequency of taking snacks is higher due to the eating can temporary lighten stress.

Are you a snack addict? Retailers are taking advantage of these consumer psychologies to making large profits. I hope this blog will attract you guys.

Catch your eyes!

Wherever you are shopping, all kinds of advertising pictures exist, attempting to attract you. Exposed to that many posters, pictures and etc. do you know the knack of visual marketing?

The picture below is just a very normal advertisement of nappy. Really ordinary, just a picture of  an infant and some literal description of its characteristics. According to the research of this picture, researchers recorded the sequence of eye movement and the main focus area.

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The right picture just shows the track of eye movement and in the left one the red part symbols the key point of consumers’ attention. Is that amazing? The baby catch the major attention! Maybe after seeing this advertisement consumers don’t know what’s on sale!

Do you know how to improve it? Just make some simple change?

Now let’s see the answer.

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Turn the baby to the right! There are more emphasis on the literal description and the product!

This simply illustrates the visual influence on marketing. Here is a new concept —- visual marketing. According to Michel Wedel and Rik Pieters (2007), visual marketing is the strategy used by companies for logo, advertising design, and more recently web page design so as to pass useful information to consumers.

On the basis of the consumer purchase decision process, there are 5 steps, including need recognition, search for information, pre-purchase evaluation of alternatives, purchase and post-consumption evaluation. As vision is associated with the very first  step, it is the first effect factor of consumers’ purchasing decision.

How to effectively capturing consumer’s attention?

I think Eye movement is vital. Consumers’ reading ads and product descriptions of online shopping is similar to their normal reading pattern.  Keith Rayner and Monica S. Castelhano (2007) have pointed out the following stuffs:

A. A sequence of eye movements typically moves from left to right across the page and then down the page.

B. eyes pay less attention to out-of-place objects, that is, eyes move around the striking places (different from other places)

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So inspired by this we can easily get the idea of embedding the critical information at top and making it different with other parts.

In addition, Edward F. McQuarrie (2007) implicated that the rhetorical perspective of advertising stimulate customers’ responses by differentiating and structuring.

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This is an example of a fruit shop’s web page. Restructuring make the rank more clearly and the main information more highlighted.  Even though the correction make the structure more complicated it probably gains more customer’s positive response.

Since visual is a complicated topic, there are still many visual factors which can affect consumers’ purchase behavior. Generally speaking, catching consumers from the first sight does count a lot!

Selling with experience!

In this blog, I will discuss some stuff about experiential consumption and marketing since I find that experience  is becoming a vital part of selling.

So the first question, what is experiential consumption?

From the early study, it could just simply be the consumption of experience which focuses on the consumer’s need of emotion, like fun, pleasure and excitement (Hirschman and Holbrook, 1982).

Disneyland, tennis or any other sports and vacations are all examples to the point. In Disneyland, you may gain fun and the happiness with your family and friends. Through sports, you may attain the feeling of victory and during vacation you could release your tight mind. You choose to consume such goods not because you could die without it but due to the fact that you need certain kind of feelings, satisfactions to meet your mental demands.

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Nowadays many retailers have already seized the value of experience so they apply it  into selling real goods, which is called experiential marketing. I think you are familiar with Domino. I remember the first day I came to Bangor the free pizza leaflet was everywhere. So do you notice that getting the free pizza equals to experiencing Domino’s service?  Phoning Domino, getting the delivery of the free pizza and relish it. Sounds great! If you are content with this experience, perhaps Domino will become your first choice of pizza! Therefore Domino will gain increasing profit then. Similarly, IKEA is also a good example. Consumers are allowed to sit on the sofa, stay in the decorated room or even sleep on the bed! IKEA tries to attract customers by their personal experience with the furniture and the types of settings and hopes that this can stimulate consumer’s purchasing behavior.

It seems that experiential marketing is achieving a great success. Why does it always work? There can be many reasons.

When consumers see the product, the tangible benefits of it will naturally emerge in consumers’ mind. The tangible benefits are simply the usage of the product. What’s cool is that the experiential marketing can make consumers catch the intangible benefits of the product. Intangible benefits may refer to the symbolic meaning of the product, the feeling of fantasy or excitement, sensory stimulation and etc. (Youn-Kyung Kim, 2001). Hence, when facing with experiencing marketing, consumers are receiving more product information than they are facing normal marketing (Morris B. & Elizabeth C., 1982) and this results in better sales.

In addition, a study pointed out that satisfaction can be directly related to loyalty (J. Enrique et al. 2008). Since the experiential selling environment enables the experience of multisensory and such experience provides consumers comprehensive experience with the product, consumers obtain much more satisfaction than they are with non-experiential selling. And as a result satisfaction sparks consumers to buy and follow the product which creates more consistent interests for sellers.

However, not all experiential marketing is effective. There are several tips for it. Firstly, Owing to the fact that it always focus on consumer’s feelings and sensory stimulation, consumers can be quickly bored. If sellers want to always receive positive feedback, they have to keep bringing something new (Yuezhou Pan, 2004). Or they will be eliminated through time. Secondly, the experience should always magnify the affirmative side of the product and try to remove the negative part. Therefore consumers could seize the advantageous information and multiply their purchasing desire.

So these findings on experiential consumption and marketing inspire us that as a businessman we should skillfully win consumers while as a customer we should be wiser! Have a nice day : )