Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How Package Design and Packaged-based Marketing Claims Lead to Overeating Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 35, 1 (2013) 7-31

Because packaging reaches consumers at the critical moments of purchase and consumption, it has become an important marketing tool for food manufacturers and retailers. In this paper, I first review how the marketing, health and nutrition claims made on packaging create “health halos” and make foods appear healthier than they are, leading to higher consumption yet lower perceived calorie intake. I then show how packaging design (cues, shapes and sizes) bias people’s perception of quantity and increase their preference for supersized packages and portions that appear smaller than they are. Finally, I examine the evidence on the effectiveness of public policies designed to limit the biasing effects of packaging on food perceptions and preferences.