The influence of using health-focused versus taste-focused language in Instagram posts about plant-based food on consumer behaviour.

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This study explores the impact of different types of language (health-focused, taste-focused, or neutral) used in Instagram posts about plant-based and meat-based foods on consumer behaviour. There exist contradictory findings regarding the effectiveness of health-focused versus taste-focused language in food marketing. Based on the grounded cognition theory of desire, the hypotheses of this study propose that taste-focused language will lead to higher product recall, attractiveness, and purchase intention compared to health-focused language, with a greater effect for plant-based posts. Native Dutch participants (N = 194) viewed Instagram posts featuring three different foods (burgers, nuggets, and hotdogs). These foods were either plant-based or meat-based and accompanied by language descriptions in either health-focused, taste-focused or neutral language. Dependent variables were measured using a 7-point Likert scale questionnaire and included product attractiveness, purchase intention and product recall. Contrary to expectations, the study found no evidence that the language used in the Instagram posts had any influence on these factors. Additionally, the type of food (plant-based or meat-based) used in the posts did not significantly affect perceived attractiveness or purchase intention as well. However, posts featuring meat-based products resulted in better product recall compared to plant-based posts. These findings suggest that for language descriptions accompanying food posts, it does not make a meaningful difference whether health-focused, taste-focused or neutral language is used in terms of consumer behaviour. Overall, this study provides valuable insights into the impact of language and food types in Instagram posts, offers novel findings on product recall, and contributes to the understanding of marketing strategies in the context of food communication on social media platforms.
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