Going healthy: how product characteristics influence the sales impact of front-of-pack health symbols

S. Maesen*, L. Lamey, A. ter Braak, L. Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Manufacturers increasingly adopt health symbols, which translate overall product healthiness into a single symbol, to communicate about the overall healthiness of their grocery products. This study examines how the performance implications of adding a front-of-pack health symbol to a product vary across products. We study the sales impact of a government-supported health symbol program in 29 packaged categories, using over four years of scanner data. The results indicate that health symbols are most impactful when they positively disconfirm pre-existing beliefs that a product is not among the healthiest products within the category. More specifically, we find that health symbols are more effective for (i) products with a front-of-pack taste claim, (ii) lower priced products, and (iii) private label products. Furthermore, these results are more pronounced in healthier categories than in unhealthier categories. Our findings imply that health symbols can help overcome lay beliefs among consumers regarding a product’s overall healthiness. As such, adding a health symbol provides easy-to-process information about product healthiness for the consumer and can increase product sales for the manufacturer.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Health symbol
  • Front-of-package nutritional information
  • Food purchases
  • Lay beliefs
  • NUTRITION INFORMATION
  • CONSUMER CHOICE
  • POTENTIAL CONSUMER
  • TASTY INTUITION
  • PRICE
  • UNHEALTHY
  • PURCHASE
  • PREMIUM
  • SEARCH
  • ONLINE

Cite this