Anxiety and search during food choice: the moderating role of attitude towards nutritional claims

Torben Hansen (Department of Marketing, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)
Ashesh Mukherjee (McGill University, Montreal, Canada)
Thyra Uth Thomsen (Department of Marketing, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Publication date: 3 May 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the effect of anxiety on information search during food choice and to test a key moderator of the effect of anxiety on search, namely attitude towards nutritional claims.

Design/methodology/approach

By means of qualitative study the paper investigates the notion that consumers experience anxiety about health outcomes during food choice. Further, by means of structural equation modelling based on two studies with representative samples of Danish consumers, the paper investigates the effects outlined above.

Findings

The authors show that anxiety during food choice increases information search in four product categories – ready dinner meals, salad dressing, biscuits, and cakes. Further, the results show that the positive effect of anxiety on information search is stronger when consumers have a less favourable attitude towards nutritional claims on the product label.

Practical implications

The results suggest that anxiety during food choice is desirable from the consumer welfare point of view since it leads to more informed consumers. The results also indicate that public policy makers should educate consumers to be critical about nutritional claims, since this would increase consumers' propensity to search for health information. In turn, from a managerial point of view this suggests that providers of healthy food should provide extended health information for consumers that are sceptical about nutritional claims since their scepticism towards this type of condensed information will in fact motivate extended information search.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to research in marketing on food choice and consumption: a consumption area that is important but difficult to navigate due to an increasing complexity of nutritional information at the point of sale. This paper demonstrates that situational, choice‐based anxiety and scepticism towards nutritional claims may actually be good things by prompting consumers to undertake search, and hence ultimately make more informed choices.

Keywords

Citation

Hansen, T., Mukherjee, A. and Uth Thomsen, T. (2011), "Anxiety and search during food choice: the moderating role of attitude towards nutritional claims", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 178-186. https://doi.org/10.1108/07363761111127608

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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