University of Twente Student Theses


Did you really understand it? Subjective and objective understanding of health claims

Boekhoorn, Nikki (2015) Did you really understand it? Subjective and objective understanding of health claims.

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Abstract:Consumers are becoming more aware of their eating habits and they want to buy foods that help them manage their consumption. The use of health claims is one approach to assist consumers in a healthy food selection. However, these claims are only effective when consumers understand them. At this moment, consumer understanding of health claims is low. This study aims to find out which factors affect the understanding of health claims and is built around the research question: “Which health claims are easier to understand?”. The experiment is based on a 2 (accepted or not accepted health claim carrier product) x 4 (simple or complex verbal health claim, pictorial health claim or no health claim) x 3 (high, middle or low education) design. The influences of these variables are examined on subjective and objective understanding, product evaluation and purchase intention. Regarding the type of claim, the conducted study shows that consumers think they understand simple verbal health claims better than complex verbal health claims. However, no difference was found between the two formats of health claims in objective understanding. Simple verbal health claims are better subjectively understood than pictorial claims and simple and complex verbal health claims are better objectively understood than pictorial health claims. Regarding the type of product, health claims placed on products that are accepted as carrier of these claims are better objectively, however not subjectively, understood. Health claims placed on accepted carrier products lead to higher product evaluation and purchase intention. For education, results show consumers with a high level of education objectively understand verbal health claims placed on accepted carrier products better than consumers with a lower education. They also showed higher purchase intentions for these products than consumers with a middle and low level of education. Finally, less objective understanding of pictorial health claims leads to less purchase intentions. This study is relevant for marketers and research. It provides scientific and empirical support for designing understandable health claims, which leads to more effective and informed consumer purchases and the achievement of health gains. In addition, it gives insight in the relation between health claims and product evaluation and purchase intentions.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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