Category Archives: Marketing

“Health Halo” Effect

As rates of overweight and obese Americans have reached record-levels, advertising claims have become more common on the fronts of food packaging, creating concerns that they may lead consumers to see foods as healthier than they really are (Brownell & Horgen, 2004; Nestle, 2002; Pomeranz, 2001). The effects of marketing can be significant because nutrition claims made on packaging can create “health halos” that make foods appear healthier than they are, leading to higher consumption yet lower perceived calorie intake. It is important to understand that influence of nutrition claims (e.g. “low fat”, “high fiber”) on health-related judgments and decisions.   The effects of health claims on packaging is seen in a study done by Wansink and Chandon (2006) found that labeling both “healthy” and “unhealthy” food as “low fat” reduced calorie estimation by 20%-25%, and increased what was considered to be the “appropriate serving size” by 20%.

Chandon and Wansink introduced the “health halo” effect in 2007, referring to the findings that people tend to underestimate the calorie content of foods in restaurants where food choices are advertised as healthy, compared to restaurants that do not advertise a health image. One healthy attribute leads consumers to assume that foods offer other healthy but unclaimed attributes. Health claims on a product can produce a “halo effect” where consumers reported beneficial effects from the product beyond those specifically mentioned in the claim.  This shows that the way consumers are processing the information they seeing on packages is far more complex than them simply processing it, they use their own beliefs and ideas and therefor interpret the information in a different way than it may be presented. For instance many consumers may mistakenly think that low fat equates to low calorie.

The mere presence of a low-fat claim has been shown to lead to underestimation of calories and greater consumption (Wansink and Chandon 2006). In a study products with a half-the-fat claim and half-the-calorie claim 22 percent of the participants made a positive “health halo” inference and thought the product was “healthy” or “good for you.” Though the study found that the products that claimed to be “better-for-you” tended to be “healthier”. But this is not to say that “healthier” is synonymous with “healthy”.

“Labeling snacks as low fat increases food intake during a single consumption occasion by up to 50%. This is robust across both hedonic utilitarian snacks, across young and old consumers across self-reported nutrition experts and novices, in public and private consumption, and regardless of whether people serve themselves or not” Wansink and Chandon 2006.

Studies by Wanskin and Chandon 2006 suggested that low-fat nutrition claims increase consumption because they increase perception of the appropriate serving size and reduce anticipate consumption guilt. “Health halos influence consumption because people feel that they can eat more of healthy food, or can eat more unhealthy (but tasty) food after eating healthy food without suffering any adverse health consequences” (Ramanathan and Williams 2007).

The effect that marketing can have on consumers purchasing habits is shown in Kellogg’s decision to market its first health claim. In 1984, Kellogg worked with the National Cancer Institute to endorse a health claim for All-Bran cereal, within six months the products market share increased by 47%.   Kozup, Cyer, and Burton (2003) showed that “when a heart-healthy claim is on the package or menu, consumers generally judge the product to reduce the likelihood of heart disease or stroke, but favorable nutrition information lead to more positive attitudes toward the product, nutrition, and purchase intentions.” When unfavorable nutrition information is available, the heart-healthy claim has no influence on either the evaluations or disease risk perception.

This overall pattern results suggests that consumers may be somewhat wary of health claims and prefer instead to trust the information contained on the Nutrition Facts panel when it is available. Favorable nutrition information on Nutrition Facts panels have even stronger effects than health claims on product attitude and purchase intentions. Never the less, results showed that there were positive effects of the inclusion of a heart-healthy claim on a package or menu.


Marketers Use Words to Influce the Way You Think About Food

“[At] no point in US history have food products displayed so many symbols and statements proclaiming nutrition and health benefits.” The marketing that companies use on the front of their products in order to sell their goods is important because it reaches consumers at time of purchase and consumption. The amount of new food products, in 2000, that were marked “reduced/low fat”, 2,076 out of 16,890, had peaked at this time. There is a growing concern about nutrition and consumers wanting nutritional information on labels and they want more health food items conveniently available to them, found Nestle and Ludwig.

In the past years, marketers have become increasingly likely to make heavy use of nutrition claim (including “low fat”), health claims, and vague unregulated claims or health sales (“smart choice” or “good for you”). The words that marketers use to explain products can have a profound effect on consumer’s perceived nutrition of the food. There is a rise in the amount of foods claiming to be “better-than-you” because “the message that a food or food component is naturally and intrinsically healthy is one of the most appealing to consumers in all cultures” (Stone 2009).

Almost 70 percent of American adults age 20 or over the a were identified as overweight or obese.  What makes obesity so relevant in this century?  High body mass index (BMI) among children and adolescents has become and continues to be a major public health concern in the United States because it is the source of so many health issues. Children with high BMI often become obese adults, and obese adults are at risk for many chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.  The key issue is that the majority of these diseases are preventable.  But when people chose their food items, nutrition ranks last in a survey of the drivers of food choices, after taste, cost, and convenience.

This social issue trend can be traced all the way back to the grocery store and restaurants.  When one walks down a grocery isle they are bombarded with a variety of products claiming to be healthy for them, whole grain, low-fat, low cholesterol, sugar free, fiber rich, the claims are endless.  The decision to purchase processed food products differs from other purchasing decision. This is due to the fact that a health claim present of the front of packaging is typically encounter before nutrition information, which is usually present on the back or side panes, is processed.

Even when consumers are aware of the persuasive intent behind various marketing communication tools, they may not realize that their consumption decisions are being influenced, Chandon, Pierre, and Wansink (2012).

The effects that health claims can have on their perception of a food item can be shown just by the name of the food. The name of the food has a strong influence on how consumers’ expectations of how tasty, filling, or fattening the food will be, which are often uncorrelated with reality. For example, a study showed that branding the same food as a “salad special” versus “pasts special” or as “fruit chews” versus “and chews” increased dieters perceptions of the healthfulness or tastiness of the food as well as its actual consumption. Although, the name changes had no impact on non-dieters. This same effect of wording can be seen in again in that food is perceived to be leaner and higher quality when labeled “75% fat-free” than “25% fat.”

The effect of key words on packaging happens as well in other products who have health claims that do not specifically claim to be low-fat. Andrews, Netermeyer, and Burton (1998) show that consumers falsely infer that foods low in cholesterol are low in fat. Similarly, there is anecdotal evidence that some consumers erroneously believe that low-fat nutrition claim indicate fewer calories (National Institutes of Health 2004).

The effects of marketing can be significant because nutrition claims made on packaging can create “health halos” that make foods appear healthier than they are, leading to higher consumption yet lower perceived calorie intake. It is important to understand that influence of nutrition claims (e.g. “low fat”, “high fiber”) on health-related judgments and decisions.

Chandon and Wansink introduced the “health halo” effect in 2007, referring to the findings that people tend to underestimate the calorie content of foods in restaurants where food choices are advertised as healthy, compared to restaurants that do not advertise a health image. One healthy attribute leads consumers to assume that foods offer other healthy but unclaimed attributes. Health claims on a product can produce a “halo effect” where consumers reported beneficial effects from the product beyond those specifically mentioned in the claim.

The Nutritional Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA) establish criteria by which nutrient and health claims can be made on food packaging. Although health claims have been used on package labels since 1984, they have been criticized as vague, trivial, or misleading (Silvergald 1996). Although foods that are sold for immediate consumption, such as in restaurants, on airplanes, and from vending machines, are not covered by all aspects of NLEA.

Breakfast wars

Taco Bell has gone all-out advertising their new breakfast line up.  They have been working on its morning menu of, waffle tacos for over seven years.  The shots between McDonalds and Taco Bell have been dubbed the ‘Breakfast War’.

Advertisements of Taco Bell have been specifically aimed at McDonald’s.  One video was about a many who had been eating the Egg Muffin since 1984.  Another ad showed 25  men from across the country named “Ronald McDonald” who say they “love Taco bell’s new breakfast”.

In response to Taco Bells attacks the golden arches posted this photo and offered free small cups of McCafe coffee to customers during breakfast hours for two weeks.  One of them says, “Nothing beats the original #FirstMeal” attached with a picture of an Egg McMuffin, McCafe coffee and hash brown from McDonald’s.  This new advertisement, titled Get With The Times, features a man singing about how dull and dated McDonald’s breakfast is to the tune of “Old MacDonald Had A Farm.”


McDonald’s gets about 20 percent of its sales from breakfast. It made $10 billion last year off their morning menu alone, dwarfing Taco Bell’s $7.6 billion in total sales for all menus combined.

“Traffic during the breakfast [hours] have been steadily increasing, while traffic during the lunch and dinner hours have been steadily decreasing year over year, and that’s why there’s this sudden interest in breakfast.” said Haley Peterson, a retail reporter for Business Insider.

Chipotle Focuses on Promoting Hight Quality of Fast Food

Chipotle is taking a new approaching at advertising, in fact they’re not even self-promoting their own brand. Through its show “Farmed and dangerous”, and two videos released on YouTube over the past two years Chipotle has taken on stance against traditional practices in the food industry. Through cause marketing Chipotle has been promoting raising the quality of fast food. This marketing strategy, Chipotle executives say, is not about “product integration,” but “values integration.”

Farmed and Dangerous,” a four part comedy series that takes a satirical look at industrial-scale farming. The common theme for Chipotle has been to not focus on their brand, rather than raising the quality of fast food.  “We’re trying to educate people about where their food comes from,” says Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing officer at Chipotle. But, he says, Millennials “are skeptical of brands that perpetuate themselves.”  The Chipolte original is available excusivly on Hulu.

The tv show is larger part of their… of their two videos that have been produced.  Over the past few years, the chain has released two short animated films on YouTube that highlighted the ills of factory farming.  The animation is superb and songs used in the videos have been sung by Willie Nelson and Fiona Apple.

Why is Chipotle putting all this money into ads that don’t directly advertising themselves? It’s not solely based on getting your name out, it’s all about linking its name with the strong Millennial values to eat better, eat local — and brand lightly. It’s all in the hopes that Millennials — who are the heart of Chipotle’s target customer — will make Chipotle’s better-for-you messaging go viral.

Smell has a Major Impact on Taste and Our Purchases

Taste and smell are intimately entwined.  Interestingly, food and drink are identified predominantly by the senses of smell and sight, not taste.  Generally we associate taste to our taste buds, in actuality “taste” is actually a blend of a food’s taste, smell and texture into a single sensation.  The senses taste and smell and very complex.  Smell is a vital part of flavor, when smell is lessened the flavor of food is diminished.  This is caused because only the taste, not the food odors, is being detected.

Only in recent years have taste receptors been identified.  The tongue map, which classified sections of the tongue with specific taste receptors, was debunked in 1974, a scientist named Virginia Collings re-examined Hanig’s work and agreed with his main point:  “There were variations in sensitivity to the four basic tastes around the tongue.  But the variations were small and insignificant.  Collings found that all tastes can be detected anywhere there are taste receptors—around the tongue, on the soft palate at back roof of the mouth, and even in the epiglottis, the flap that blocks food from the windpipe”.tongue_map

“The sensation of flavor is actually a combination of taste and smell,” said Tom Finger, a professor at the University of Colorado-Denver Medical School and chairman of the 2008 International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste, held last month in San Francisco. “If you hold your nose and start chewing a jelly bean taste is limited, but open your nose midway through chewing and then you suddenly recognize apple or watermelon.”  Acquiring information related to scent through the back of the mouth is called retronasal olfaction—via the nostrils it is called orthonasal olfaction.

During the process of chewing air is forced through the nasal passages, carrying the smell of the food along with it.  Without the sensation of smell supplementing taste one would only be able to experience the five taste recognized by taste buds: salty, sour, sweet, bitter and umami.  It’s the odor molecules from food that give us most of our taste sensation.

The process of tasting, described by Dana Small, is “When food and drink are placed in the mouth, taste cells are activated and we perceive a flavor. Concurrently, whatever we are eating or sipping invariably contacts and activates sensory cells, located side-by-side with the taste cells, that allow us to perceive qualities such as temperature, spiciness or creaminess. We perceive the act of touch as tasting because the contact “captures” the flavor sensation,” a neuroscientist as the John B. Pierce Laboratory in New Haven, Conn. and the Yale School of Medicine.

When people’s sense of smell diminishes, for various reasons notably smoking, they are no longer to taste things as well.  Scientists have found that the sense of smell is most accurate between the ages of 30 and 60 years. It begins to decline after age 60, and a large proportion of elderly persons lose their smelling ability.  Additionally, women are more accurate at identifying odors.

Kitchen-Talks-The-aroma-of-foodScent is extremely powerful because it is intertwined with our memories of places and events.  That’s why the smell of grandma’s cookies is so nostalgic.  Unsurprisingly marketers having been trying to incorporate scent into their advertisements and stores in order to boost sales.  Businesses goals are to make customers feel relaxed and comfortable, hoping that they will stay in the stores longer and purchase more.  Some businesses have even created their own signature scent that shoppers will associate with their stores.  Smells have been found to influence memory, impact perception, and even increase sales.

Scent marketing is one of the newer components of advertising.  This process replicates the practice of realtors baking cookies during a homes open house in order to make buyers feel at home.  In a commercial setting liquid scent is vaporized by and dispersed through a building’s ventilation system.  Because smell’s ability to trigger moods is based on memory, a scent’s power will differ from person to person.

New Chips Ahoy Ads Appeal to Kids?

Stuck at number 2 Chips Ahoy trails behind Oreos in the cookie aisle, in order to gain new sales Chips Ahoy has introduced a new advertising initiative.  The re-branding includes a new theme, from an agency that is new to Chips Ahoy.

Earlier in March Chips Ahoy reintroduced their retired Cookie Guy to bring back the fun in their cookies.  The Cookie Guy has gotten a makeover, after not being used since 2010, just in time to celebrate the cookies 50th anniversary.  Cookie Guy, redesigned to look more human, is returning to embody a “brand spirit” that is “lighthearted, playful, slightly mischievous,” said the senior brand manager for Chips Ahoy!  The campaign featuring Cookie Guy consists of television ads either 15 or 30 seconds long.  The ads which initially come off as immature and lame humor, might just be so bad on purpose.  There are set up to appeal to the cookie maker’s target demographic: cookie-loving kids.children ads

The new Chips Ahoy! campaign will also help bring out new varieties of the brand under the name Chips Ahoy! Ice Cream Creations, in four flavors: Dulce de Leche, mint chocolate chip, mocha chunk and root beer float.








Advertising to children has been taboo for quite a while but it still be commonly found.  Data collected by Common Sense Media in Advertising to Children and Teens: Current Practices show that when you add in websites, product placements and cross-promotions, kids are pretty much marketed to all day.   Kids ages 2-4 see an average of 25,6000 ads a year and 85 percent of companies that market food to kids had websites with content for children, like viral marketing, online TV ads and branded items for download.

As adweek said “It’s a good play for the kids who’ll clamor after the product. The moms who do the grocery shopping may not be so thrilled that the brand is egging on their little angels.”

Check out some of the ads below.





Sugar is found in many foods, whether its hidden away or prominently displaced as a marketing tool.  It’s not unknown how alluring sugar is, but we’ve lost track of how much we are consuming throughout the years of the rise of convenience foods.

There are two types of sugar: added and natural.  Foods containing naturally found sugar include fruit, fruit juice, milk and dairy products. Added sugar, as the name suggests is sugar that is added to food during processing or preparation to make it sweeter.  There is a long list of ingredients that are classified as added sugar includes not just white table sugar, but brown sugar, honey, agave syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, and stevia.  Just to mention a few food products that have a lot of added sugar include sugary drinks, cakes, candy, fruit drinks, bread, pasta sauce, chips and snacks, yogurt, and cereal.sugar-in-food

Sugar has a great influence on how our bodies perform.  Jean Mayer, a Harvard professor of nutrition, is credited with discovering how the desire to eat is controlled by the amount of glucose in the blood and by the brain’s hypothalamus, both of which in turn are greatly influenced by sugar. Scientist are not the only ones who have looked into how sugar affects the brain, food manufactures have also learned how to use it to produce better, more tasty, and addicting foods.  Food scientists can determine a product’s “bliss point,” – the precise amount of sweetness – that makes it most enjoyable.

The increasing amount of sugar Americans are craving may be turning into a learned behavior, the sweeter food is the sweeter we expect it to be.  Throughout generations this produces kids who love sweet breakfast cereal, who grow up to desire sugar in their morning coffee, sugary salad dressing at lunch, frozen meals with sugar, topped off with a bowl of ice cream. As our taste becomes increasingly accustom to high amounts of sugar we start to unconsciously expect it.

With consumption at rates 22 teaspoons of it a day, the American Heart Association suggested in 2009 that Americans  should cut their intake down to six teaspoons for adult women and nine for men. Although here is no specific national guideline for sugar consumption.  Nor is there a recommended maximum limit for the amount of sugar food producers use unlike salt and fat.  In 2004 when the WHO tried to include the 10% sugar limit recommendation in its Global Strategy for Diet, Physical Activity and Health, the U.S. Congress — under pressure from the sugar industry lobby — threatened to withdraw U.S. funding for the agency.

Sugar has come under fire previously in the late 70’s when the public became concerned about the amount of sugar in cereal and the FTC looked into regulating how TV advertising was aimed at kids.  Some cereal’s clock in at 50 percent sugar.  Soda consumption once was looked as the major culprit of the rising obesity numbers, but now the intake of other sugary drinks, like sports drinks, vitamin water, tea and others are just as bad.

Released earlier this year, this research is the first to link on a national level the amount of sugar American adults eat to their risk of dying from heart disease after taking into account weight, age, health, exercise and diet, said lead study author Quanhe Yang, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  “The risk of cardiovascular disease death increases exponentially as you increase your consumption of added sugar,” says the study’s lead author, Quanhe Yang, a senior scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Consuming too much added sugar — in regular soda, cakes, cookies and candy — increases your risk of death from heart disease, according to a new study, the largest of its type.Excessive sugar is a big contributing factor to the obesity epidemic in America and other countries across the world.  Weight gain is just the tip of the iceberg.  Obesity is correlated with increased risks for even worse conditions including diabetes 2 and heart disease.


How can we curb our desire for sugar?  Be conscious about the products were consuming, ultimately we are in charge of our health and can not be reliant on outside forces.  Start with breakfast, the quintessential breakfast dish accounted for 31 percent of Americans’ morning meals, beating out eggs, bagels and other pastries, according to an ABC poll.  Sugary drinks are also ill advised, even fruit juices  like the beloved orange and apple, because the majority of nutrients and fiber and left behind when its sweet nectar is cultivated.  We can’t expect food manufactures to be solely responsible for our health, they are in the business of making money and that is what they will do.  It’s not that gloomy through.  Campaigns are fighting for regulation and the lowering of additives.  Also the new nutrition labels, which we wont be seeing for a few years, with address the issue of added sugars and more prominently display the amount of sugar a product contains.

Obligatory Super Bowl Post: Truely American?

So today I clicked on the cliche article “The 10 Best Ads of Super Bowl XLVIII”.  Scarlett Johnson was looking sultry so I had to find out what she was advertising.  Then I saw a post about how great the Coca-Cola ad was: coca

Okay you have my interests now, off to Google I go to see what all the hype is.

I have taken marketing classes, in no way am I an expert, but I have some knowledge.  Now every time I watch a commercial I take it with a grain of salt and analyze it for what it is. I about gagged half way into the 60 second ad.

Coca-cola’s goal is to connect with people, they have managed to create great stories and build emotional ties with its customers that ultimately contribute to the bottom line.

I don’t want to sound unpatriotic but really, this is all about selling a pop.  You see how these brands want you to feel apart of something ? So you consume their products.  If you have a BBQ they want you to have hamburgers and cokes because that’s what the American dream is about.  A great way to sell products is to target peoples emotions.  Here is some previous campaigns that coca-cola has done that show this.

Disclaimer, diversity is great I have no opposition to the use of other languages.  I’m talking about it all from a marketing point.  At what lengths does/can one go to sell products?