The impact of sensory or health-focused language in food descriptions on consumers’ response to (un)healthy foods.

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Previous research found that language description use can have significant effects on consumers’ food selection and overall attitude of food products (Papies, Johannes, Daneva, et al., 2020; Turnwald & Crum, 2019; Turnwald et al., 2019; Turnwald, Jurafsky, et al., 2017). The purpose of this study is to find if language description variations for (un)healthy food products can give insight into consumers’ response to healthy or unhealthy products, and consequently give tools to battle obesity. This posed the following (exploratory) research question: ‘How does sensory and non-sensory language in relation to (un)healthy food impact desirability and purchase intention?’ This was studied using a questionnaire with a mixed design. The within design was that all participants were exposed to healthy and unhealthy products, and the between design was that participants were sorted into three language description groups: sensory, health-focused and descriptive. Questions about the variables desirability and purchase intention were asked. A total of 90 participants participated in the study. Results showed that the desirability and purchase intention of participants increased when healthy food was described. There was no main effect of language. These effects together showed that healthy food described in health-focused language increased participants response. Purchase intention increased when unhealthy products were described in sensory language. These results gave more insight and understanding on how to increase response to healthy items, and consequently battle adult obesity.
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