Halo or Devil Effect? The Impact of Framing on Vegetarian Food Products

Fanny Isabelle Gunilla Johansson & Sandra Martina Krncevic

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

In the light of the climate challenge, a shift toward more vegetarian lifestyles has been identified as an effective way for consumers to reduce their environmental impact. In this regard, the concept of framing is relevant due to its proven impact on consumers' perceptions, attitudes, and choices. Even though vegetarian labels are widely implemented on food products, it is to date unclear if framing vegetarian food products as climate friendly could be more beneficial in terms of promoting sustainable consumption. Thus, the present thesis investigated how vegetarian food products labeled as vegetarian and/or climate friendly gave rise to halo or devil effects on consumers' perceptions, attitudes, and purchase intentions. An online experiment was conducted to test the effect of the labels on three food products of which two were meat substitutes and one was not. A total of 328 Danish consumers participated in the study.

The findings indicated that the food labels in particular influenced consumers’ attitudes and purchase intentions. The vegetarian label had a positive effect on consumers' attitudes and purchase intentions for the product that was not a direct substitute to meat. A similar effect was found for the climate friendly label on consumers' attitudes. Conversely, when meat substitutes were framed as climate friendly a backlash effect was identified, as the consumers had more negative attitudes toward the food products. Additionally, the moderating effects of environmental consciousness, gender, age, health consciousness, and attitudes toward vegetarian food and meat reduction were investigated. The findings indicated partial support for a moderating effect of gender and attitudes toward vegetarian food and meat reduction. Based on the findings, a uniform conclusion in terms of determining the most optimal label for promoting sustainable food consumption cannot be drawn. The results highlight the importance of taking both product type and target group into consideration when marketing vegetarian food products, but also calls for future research to be conducted within this field.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages155
SupervisorsMeike Janssen