A recent study suggests that a person’s perception about the nutritional benefits of a certain food is easily changed simply by changing the name of the food product. Once perception has been changed, consumption of that food product also changes.
The study, which has been published in the Consumer Research Journal, suggests that consumers who are health-conscious may be misled into buying foods that claim to be healthy (as the label suggests) when in fact it is otherwise. These consumers might be overly occupied with checking the nutritional values printed on the packaging labels, relying mainly on what the labels say.
According to Professor Caglar Irmak of the University of South Carolina, dieters have learned to focus on not buying foods that they perceive as bad based on the product name. For instance, a product that is identified to mainly consist of apples is considered to be healthy, while a cupcake is considered to be unhealthy. Sometimes, this ambiguity in product labeling can lead to manufacturers taking advantage and leading consumers to misconceptions. For instance, there are potato chips that are named veggie chips, milkshakes that are called smoothies and drinks containing high amounts of sugars that are called flavored water.
Just by changing a product’s name in order to sound more healthy, a number of health conscious consumers also change their perceptions and end up buying these products. That is how big an influence a product has on diet-conscious consumers, as the study suggests. On the other hand, consumers who are less conscious about their diet have a lesser possibility to falling prey to these product name changes.