How do the packaging labels affect consumer health perception?


By Zuzana Hruba

Nowadays consumers tend to be very aware of the content of their daily diet. That in turn, leads to a higher attention towards food labelling and trustworthy food products. This is caused not only by mass media health campaigns but it is possibly also a reaction to several food scandals.1,2 As a result, the evaluation of food product’s healthiness has become part of the purchase decision process.

However, it can get problematic for a consumer to orientate in today’s broad offer on the market. One of the strongest tools communicating the product’s benefits and qualities then, is the packaging. Therefore, I will focus my study on how certain label signs on the packaging influence consumers’ purchase decision process and healthiness perception.

Speaking of the decision process, it is crucial to understand all the factors influencing it in order to communicate the benefits of the product in a right way. One of the key factors is consumers’ trust. However, every consumer group has particular belief values and reacts to certain label signs in a different way. Therefore, there is a need for a market segmentation when investigating label signs effect on consumer behaviour.

With this in mind, The Healthy Marketing Team’s FourFactors® Brand Acceleration System, with it’s four stakeholders, is the perfect tool to deeply understand why some consumer segments react differently towards label signs and what is the link between them at the same time.

Available evidence points out there is a consumers’ confusion over different logos on the food products’ labels.3 However, there is a research gap in understanding how these affect consumers’ perception of healthiness. Moreover, consumer segmentation within behaviour influenced by packaging has not been implemented in any of the studies either.

The aim of my study is to investigate the effect of certain label signs on consumer behaviour. Concretely, how it influences the decision process with subsequent willingness to buy the product. The research will be highly relevant for companies when deciding which information to put on the label. Furthermore, the perceived healthiness based on label signs will be measured as well.

As mentioned above, perceived healthiness of the product is one of the main drivers when shopping for groceries. It is therefore extremely valuable to understand which label signs result in added healthy value and into which extent. Finally, different consumer segments according to FourFactors® Brand Acceleration System will be taken into account during the investigation. It is utterly essential for brands to follow the needs of the consumer segments they are targeting in order to properly communicate their benefits.

Zuzana Hruba,
Intern at Healthy Marketing Team 2017
Student at Health Food Innovation Management, Maastricht University

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Wakefield, M. A., Loken, B., & Hornik, R. C. (2010). Use of mass media campaigns to change health behaviour. Lancet, 376(9748), 1261-1271. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(10)60809-4

Nilsson, H., Tunçer, B., & Thidell, Å. (2004). The use of eco-labeling like initiatives on food products to promote quality assurance—is there enough credibility? Journal of Cleaner Production, 12(5), 517-526

Azais-Braesco, V., Goffi, C., & Labouze, E. (2006). Nutrient profiling: comparison and critical analysis of existing systems. Public health nutrition, 9(05), 613-622.