Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Removing This (or Not), Adding That (or Not): A Classification of “Healthy Food” Claims

ANDRE Quentin, CHANDON Pierre, HAWS Kelly L.
Read the working paper
INSEAD Working Paper 2014/65/MKT

Consumers are routinely exposed to a large variety of front-of-package statements meant to communicate in one way or another that the food is healthy. Although research has investigated people’s responses to specific food claims (e.g., “low fat”), we do not know whether their reactions are generalized to other claims. More generally, should food claims meant to communicate health benefits be lumped together for research purposes based on consumer responses, or grouped in smaller clusters – and if so, on what basis? To address these issues, we develop and test a new classification of food claims based on their perceived positivity (do they focus on a desirable or undesirable aspect of the food?) and naturalness (are they grounded in nature or science?), yielding four types of claims: (1)“removing” claims, like “gluten free” (a negative element has been scientifically removed), (2) “adding” claims, like “added vitamins” (a positive element has been scientifically added), (3)“not removing” claims, like “whole grains” (natural and positive element has been preserved) and (4) “not adding” claims, like “no artificial flavor” (no unnatural negative element added). When we analyzed 37 commonly used food claims in the four clusters, this classification proved robust regardless of demographic or individual dietary differences. It also revealed that each claim was associated with different taste, health and satiation expectations.