The fast-food market is one area which faces little regulation of visible nutritional information on menus and food packaging to encourage healthy food choices. Additionally, nutritional information’s effectiveness is mostly unknown in the fast-food market. The purpose of this paper is to provide insights into the effectiveness of various forms of nutritional labelling methods and information by analysing the consumer decision-making process of 248 fast-food consumers.
Three discrete choice experiments are used to compare three popular nutritional symbol methods. Consumer preferences for these symbols are extracted using a “choice-based” conjoint analysis, while controlling for price and branding of fast-food products.
It is found that a very simple “traffic light signal” is the best signal for suggesting healthiness, with as much as 41 per cent of the importance in consumer decision making (p<0.01), over that of product pricing and even product brand and performs better than more information laden guided daily amounts symbols and health endorsement methods (attributing 27 and 13 per cent in their respective studies). This highlights the fine balance between too much and too little food nutrition information and (most notably) how specific nutritional information methods can be even more influential on food choices than a change in product price might.
There is currently a lack of research into the use of nutritional cues on influencing fast-food choices. Additionally, most previous studies focus on the isolated effect of nutrition labels.
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