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A neurobehavioral account of differential consumer responses to price and in-store display between un/healthy food

Alice Labban (Frank R. Seaver College of Letters Arts and Sciences, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, USA)
Yu Ma (Department of Marketing, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)
Laurette Dube (Department of Marketing, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 16 August 2021

Issue publication date: 10 November 2021

418

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to elucidate some of the complexity around food consumption by drawing from neuroscience research of food as a motivated choice (i.e. a neurobehavioral process sensitive to dopaminergic response to food and environmental cues such as marketing). The authors explore the single and compounded effect of the motivational salience of food’s intrinsic reinforcing value tied to its sugar content and that of two marketing food cues, price and in-store display, on actual consumer purchase behavior.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors test the above hypotheses in two perceived “healthy” product categories with a wide distribution of sugar content. The authors estimate a within-category model using three years of retail transaction data to test the effect on weekly sales.

Findings

The authors confirm the single effect of each of food’s and marketing cues’ motivational salience as well as their compounded effect with high-motivational-salience food being less price elastic and more susceptible to in-store display activities.

Research limitations/implications

This research highlights the need to complement current reliance on unhealthy/healthy perception with finer grained objective evidence linked to the formulation of the food itself and the marketing applied to them.

Practical implications

The present study findings may help marketing managers and policymakers develop better targeted pricing and display strategies for low- and high-motivational-salience food, attempting to strike a better balance between consumer welfare and commercial performance.

Originality/value

This paper is one of the few that links real-world market outcomes to predictions derived from a unique combination of consumer neuroscience and neurobiology of food, advancing data-driven decisions.

Keywords

Citation

Labban, A., Ma, Y. and Dube, L. (2021), "A neurobehavioral account of differential consumer responses to price and in-store display between un/healthy food", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 55 No. 11, pp. 2988-3009. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-07-2020-0565

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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