Effects of front-of-pack social norm messages on food choice and liking

Elizabeth H. Zandstra*, Álvaro H.P. Carvalho, Erica Van Herpen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Social norms refer to what most people do or approve of. Perceived social norms can influence food choice and intake behaviour. However, whether social norms can increase liking and taste perception of food products has not been studied so far. Across two studies, we investigated the impact of on-pack social norm messages (no norm, descriptive or injunctive) and focus (taste or health) on choice and liking of salt-reduced products. In Study I, we investigated the effects of on-pack social norm messages on choice of salt-reduced products in an online shelf purchase test (n = 491). In Study II, we investigated the effects of on-pack social norm messages on liking and salt taste perception of salt-reduced products after tasting (n = 194). Results of Study I showed that focus rather than social norms impacted product choice: participants chose soups with a health focused message significantly more than soups with a taste focused message, regardless of social norm condition. Results of Study II showed that, just before tasting, participants expected the soups with the descriptive norm messages to be saltier but not better liked than the other soups. When actually tasting the soups, the descriptive norm messages did not influence salt taste perception nor liking, i.e. all soups were similarly perceived in saltiness and liking. No effects were found of injunctive norms on expectations, perceptions and liking. Implications with regard to theory and practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-93
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Volume58
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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