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No pain, no gain: how PACE information attenuates consumption

William J. Montford (Department of Marketing, Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, USA)
John Peloza (Department of Marketing and Supply Chain, University of Kentucky, Kentucky, USA)
Ronald Earl Goldsmith (Department of Marketing, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 13 November 2017




The current research contributes to the marketing literature by examining, and more importantly, better understanding a presentation format (i.e. PACE) in which caloric information is complemented with physical activity time required to offset consumption. The purpose of this paper is to systematically evaluate the impact of this approach in both actual and simulated consumption settings while providing evidence of its contribution to healthier decision-making. This research uncovered several important insights into how consumers are influenced by, and respond to, the presence of physical activity time.


The paper used experiential designs in five studies to examine how the presence of physical activity calorie equivalent (PACE) information affects consumption. The studies measured both intended and actual consumption behavior. The data were analyzed using analysis of variance as well as bootstrapping methods.


The paper establishes that PACE information reduces consumption compared to NLEA-mandated information. We show that the effectiveness of PACE information differs based on consumers’ level of health consciousness as well as food type. Our research also uncovers a moderating effect based on perceived difficulty of the featured activity. Finally, we show the psychological process underlying the effectiveness of PACE information.

Research limitations/implications

Future research can address the generalizability of current findings across different consumption domains and contexts. Our work focuses on the efficacy of information delivery at the point of consumption. The results of the current study may differ when the decision is being made at the point of purchase for future consumption.

Practical implications

The paper’s findings represent a win-win scenario for consumers and manufacturers alike. Manufactures stand to benefit from PACE information as many consumers are seeking healthier food options and are willing to pay a premium for items that help them make more healthful choices. Consumers will benefit as well, given the struggle with obesity and other diet-related ills, by being provided with a more effective means of making healthier choices.

Social implications

Obesity and diet-related chronic diseases are global pandemics affecting consumers throughout the world. This paper contributes to this issue by presenting manufacturers and researchers with a better understanding of how consumers can be encouraged to make healthier choices and overcome the barriers to healthier lifestyles.


This paper addresses a gap in the literature as well as an important social concern by better understanding how healthier nutrition choices can be encouraged.



The authors acknowledge the helpful input of the editor and reviewers. The authors also thank Maura Scott and Martin Mende for their constructive suggestions and comments on a previous draft of this article.


Montford, W.J., Peloza, J. and Goldsmith, R.E. (2017), "No pain, no gain: how PACE information attenuates consumption", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 34 No. 7, pp. 525-540.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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