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Reactions to Food Labels Change According to Socioeconomic Status


Featuring results that may have far-reaching implications on the future of labelling and targeted advertising, a recent study conducted by researchers from Greenwich’s Facility of Education and Health has pinpointed distinct differences in the reactions to food labels between differing socio-economic groups.

The study sought to isolate the responses to food labels in a movie theatre environment. Participants were given their preferred flavour of popcorn with one of three labels placed on the package - low-fat, high-fat, or no label. Test subjects were then shown two film clips in an attempt to simulate the standard movie theatre environment, complete with one of the most iconic food products available.

When given products that featured a “low-fat” label were given to individual from a “higher” socio-economic demographic they typically consumed more of this product than their counterparts who were given popcorn featuring either a “high-fat” label or no label at all.

While these results may seem to be somewhat obvious, it is interesting to observe how results between the lower and higher demographics groups differed. When individuals from a lower income demographic were given popcorn products featuring either the “low-fat” or “high-fat” label, they ate less of the product than those given popcorn featuring no label at all.

Although the complete grouping of derived implications from this study are somewhat extensive, of principal interest is the idea that those commonly classified within a “lower” status group seem to be more invested in their overall health. Regardless of the label included on the product they were given, the recognition of the presence of fat in the product served to diminish their overall consumption.

When asked for a general response to the studies, Dr. Rachel Crockett, Senior Research Fellow at the Greenwich Faculty of Education and Health, said, “Nutritional labelling is being advocated by policy makers internationally as a means to promote healthy eating, but there has been very little research assessing the impact of labelling on eating behaviour in the general population”.

While the full implications of this study have yet to be seen, many believe that research projects such as this fulfil a vital niche within the overall body of scientific research being produced today. As additional studies are undertaken in this area, researchers hope to better understand how labelling may affect general consumer trends. Information related to this could be immensely valuable for both marketers and health advocates.

For more information, visit www.labelservice.co.uk

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