Using product popularity to stimulate choice for light products in supermarkets: An examination in virtual reality

Robert P.G. Goedegebure*, Erica van Herpen, Hans C.M. van Trijp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

With the use of virtual reality, this study investigates the potential for popularity cues to stimulate consumers to choose healthier products (versus regular products) within product categories in a supermarket context. Popularity may increase perceived product quality and perceived certainty about that quality. Healthier alternatives (i.e., light products) within a category often have a taste disadvantage compared to regular counterparts as a result of their trimmed down nutrient profiles (low in fat, sugar or salt). Because consumers are more uncertain about the taste of these light products, a popularity cue may have a larger effect on product choice for these options than on the choice for regular products. This hypothesis is tested in an experiment using virtual reality to realistically display a supermarket context. In the main experiment, a sample of 300 consumers was asked to shop for specific groceries, using existing brands and products. The results demonstrate that consumers are more likely to choose light products when these are combined with a popularity cue. In contrast, the popularity cue did not affect choice for the regular alternatives. These results have important implications for research, and for public-policy makers and food retailers that aim to stimulate healthful consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103786
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Volume79
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

Fingerprint

supermarkets
Cues
groceries
public policy
product quality
salts
sugars
Food
nutrients
Public Policy
lipids
Administrative Personnel
Salts
Fats
sampling
Research

Keywords

  • Consumer behavior
  • Healthy
  • Light
  • Popularity
  • Social influence
  • Virtual reality

Cite this

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title = "Using product popularity to stimulate choice for light products in supermarkets: An examination in virtual reality",
abstract = "With the use of virtual reality, this study investigates the potential for popularity cues to stimulate consumers to choose healthier products (versus regular products) within product categories in a supermarket context. Popularity may increase perceived product quality and perceived certainty about that quality. Healthier alternatives (i.e., light products) within a category often have a taste disadvantage compared to regular counterparts as a result of their trimmed down nutrient profiles (low in fat, sugar or salt). Because consumers are more uncertain about the taste of these light products, a popularity cue may have a larger effect on product choice for these options than on the choice for regular products. This hypothesis is tested in an experiment using virtual reality to realistically display a supermarket context. In the main experiment, a sample of 300 consumers was asked to shop for specific groceries, using existing brands and products. The results demonstrate that consumers are more likely to choose light products when these are combined with a popularity cue. In contrast, the popularity cue did not affect choice for the regular alternatives. These results have important implications for research, and for public-policy makers and food retailers that aim to stimulate healthful consumption.",
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