New paper: The influence of label information on the snacks parents choose for their children: Individual differences in a choice based conjoint test
Products targeted at children use several eye-catching elements to attract children and convey the idea that they are appropriate for them. In the supermarket, it is not uncommon to find colorful packages with cartoon characters, photos of celebrities and references to fun. Unfortunately, many of those products hide an excessive content of sugar, fat, and sodium. These products frequently include cues (e.g., nutrient claims) to convey the idea that they are healthy. Several studies have explored the influence of these elements on children’s perception but an in-depth understanding on their impact on parents’ choice is still lacking. ESR1, Ana Laura Velázquez, conducted an online study with 1213 Uruguayan mothers to study how label information impact mothers’ healthiness perception and choice of two popular snack products: chocolate milk and sponge cake. Results showed that regardless of the product, the presence of a nutrient claim increased healthiness perception and encouraged mothers’ choice. Although at first glance the presence of a cartoon characters and the nutrient content (sugar or saturated fat) appeared less relevant for mothers’ decisions, not all the mothers behaved the same. One group of mothers gave more importance to the cartoon character when making their choices, whereas another mainly focused on the nutrient content to select the healthiest product instead of the claim. These results highlight the need to regulate the use of nutritional claims, cartoon characters, and other persuasive elements in products of poor nutritional quality targeted at children.
Velázquez, A. L., Alcaire, F., Vidal, L., Varela, P., Næs, T., & Ares, G. (2021). The influence of label information on the snacks parents choose for their children: Individual differences in a choice based conjoint test. Food Quality and Preference, 94, 104296. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2021.104296
choice experiments, ESR11, food policy, label design, snacking