The effect of food labels and mindfulness on consumers’ evaluations of healthy food options.

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Vegan and vegetarian diets have become more popular over the last couple of years. Choosing such a healthy diet is often a conscious choice based on the advantages of this diet, such as receiving more vitamins. However, for many people choosing a meat-based diet is still an unconscious habit. This habit can be influenced through memory-triggering language based on the grounded theory of cognition, which states that language can evoke memories which unconsciously affect the decision-making process in the minds of the consumer. Therefore, language can also be used to direct consumer behaviour toward healthy food options by triggering eating memories. This study tested how language through food labels could influence consumer behaviour by measuring its effect on perceived attractiveness and purchase intention of healthy food products. The food labels were tested in two mindful conditions (non-mindful and mindful) because previous studies found that mindfulness mediated the effect of food labels. The food labels were presented in English and tested amongst Dutch and German native speakers, since a difference in English proficiency was expected, the effects of food labels and mindfulness were ought to differ between these groups. This study incorporated three types of food labels: sensory (crunchy), arousing (exciting), and healthy (nutritious). It was expected that the sensory and arousing food labels would increase perceived attractiveness and purchase intention more than the healthy label and that this effect would be mediated in the mindful condition. However, no main effects of food labels nor mindfulness were found, nor a difference between the German and Dutch native speakers. This contradicts previous studies, that did find significant effects of food language on memory and decision-making. Therefore, more research is needed to gain information about the effect of language in different food settings, since previously found effects might not be as robust as previously thought, to ultimately find how consumer behaviour can be directed toward healthier food options.
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