Assessing Information on Food Packages

Jesper Clement, Viktor Smith, Jordan Zlatev, Kerstin Gidlöf, Joost Van de Weijer

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Purpose: This paper presents an experimental study which aims at assessing the potentially misleading effect of graphic elements on food packaging. We call these elements potentially misleading elements (PMEs) as they can give customers false expectations. They are either (a) highlighted numerical information (30% fibre, 8% fat, 100% natural …) or (b) pictorial infor-mation with no relation to the product (e.g. images of happy people).
Design/methodology/approach: In a combined decision task monitored by eye-tracking and a subsequence survey, we tested the impact of PMEs on common products. Combining different pairs of products, where one product had a PME whereas the other did not, we could evaluate if preference correlated with the presence of a PME.
Findings: We found both types of PMEs to have analogous effects on participants’ preferences and correlate with participants’ visual attention. We also found evidence for a positive influence on a later explicit justification for the specific choice.
Research limitations/implications: This study was conducted in a lab environment and solely related to health-related decisions. We still need to know if these findings are transferable to real in-store decisions and other needs like high quality or low price. This calls for further research.
Practical implications: The topic is important for food companies and it might become a priority in managing brand equity, combining consumer preferences, loyalty, and communicative fairness.
Originality/value: Using eye-tracking and retrospective interviews brings new insights to consumer’s decision making and how misleading potentially occurs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)219-237
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Eye-tracking
  • Decision
  • Food packaging
  • Misleading

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