Nutrition claims: Do they impact choice?

Posted by Oliver Koll on Mar 22, 2019

No sugar added. High in protein. With added vitamin C. Many products carry at least one nutrition claim emphasizing healthiness. At the shelf, shoppers often ignore such claims because of information overflow or a general dislike of this selling tactic. Results of a recent study suggest that nutrition claims should be used wisely:

  • Nutrition claims can result in lower consumer choice fora product. Negatively framed claims (e.g., no sugar added) boost shoppers’ choice more than positive ones (e.g., plus vitamin C).
  • Market leaders benefit more from nutrition claims because their brand equity enhances credibility. Small brands and strongly promoted brands are worse off.
  • Nutrition claims work better for healthy than for unhealthy categories—for the latter they spoil the anticipated pleasure of indulgence in, for example, chocolate and crisps.
  • High promotional activities in categories reduce the effectiveness of nutritional claims: Shoppers are distracted by price signals.
  • Finally, nutrition claims benefit from high category advertising activities because they add to category involvement and more frequent exposure.

Because nutrition claims have no universal impact on shoppers’ choice, brand manufacturers should carefully frame their health claims. Positive claims are not preferred over negative ones and using both should be avoided. Finally, health claims should credibly support the brand positioning and fit the category.

Source: Holtrop, Cleeren, Geyskens & Verhoef (2018). The Impact of Nutrition Claims on SKU Choice: When are Products with Health Claims more Successful?