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“Go sugar-free?” : the influence of online nudging on healthier food choices

Rademaker, M. (2021) “Go sugar-free?” : the influence of online nudging on healthier food choices.

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Abstract:Aim - This study investigates to what extent a traffic light label nudge (TLL) and a descriptive norm nudge can be used to positively influence the healthiness of one’s food choices and attitude towards low-sugar products in an online shopping. The relevance of this study can be derived from the significant rise in people diagnosed with obesity or other overweight related diseases. This study seeks to contribute to this problem by reducing people’s sugar-intake and changing their eating habits. Method - An experiment with a 2 (traffic light label vs no traffic light label) X 2 (descriptive norm vs no descriptive norm) between-subjects design with a moderator variable (health consciousness). An online supermarket was recreated based on existing online supermarkets. Participants (N = 228) were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions on the website of the online supermarket. Then, they were presented with a grocery list containing 10 products that they had to purchase. After completing the experiment, the participants were redirected to an online questionnaire to measure the constructs of this study. Results - Statistical analyses showed no main effects of a traffic light label or a descriptive norm nudge on the healthiness of food choice or attitude towards low-sugar products. However, the results did show a statistically significant interaction effect with Λ = .911, F (6, 202) = 3.272, p = .004. A traffic light label positively influences one’s food choice and attitude, depending on the degree of absence of a descriptive norm nudge. Also, a descriptive norm negatively influences one’s food choice in absence of the TLL nudge. Furthermore, the descriptive norm negatively influences the attitude towards low-sugar products in the presence of a TLL nudge. Contrary to expectations, no moderating effects of health consciousness were found. Conclusion - This research provides evidence that implementing complementary nudges (i.e. traffic light label and descriptive norm) can be an cost effective way to positively affect the healthiness of one’s food choice and attitude towards low-sugar products. However, the participants did not purchase more low-sugar products when the nudges were presented separately. This lack of effectiveness may be attributed to the channel differences between an online context versus an offline context that could affect consumer’s choices.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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