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Can information costs affect consumer choice? Nutritional labels in a supermarket experiment

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  • Kiesel, Kristin
  • Villas-Boas, Sofia B.

Abstract

This paper investigates whether information costs under currently regulated nutritional labeling prevent consumers from making healthier food choices. We implement five nutritional shelf label treatments in a market-level experiment. These labels reduce information costs by highlighting and summarizing information available on the Nutritional Facts Panel. Following a difference-in-differences and synthetic control method approach, we analyze weekly store-level scanner data for microwave popcorn purchases from treatment and control stores. Our results suggest that consumer purchases are affected by information costs. Implemented low calorie and no trans fat labels increase sales. In contrast, implemented low fat labels decrease sales, suggesting that consumer response is also influenced by consumers' taste perceptions. A combination of these claims into one label treatment increases information costs and does not affect sales significantly.

Suggested Citation

  • Kiesel, Kristin & Villas-Boas, Sofia B., 2013. "Can information costs affect consumer choice? Nutritional labels in a supermarket experiment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 153-163.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:31:y:2013:i:2:p:153-163 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijindorg.2010.11.002
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    Cited by:

    1. Allais, Olivier & Etilé, Fabrice & Lecocq, Sébastien, 2015. "Mandatory labels, taxes and market forces: An empirical evaluation of fat policies," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, pages 27-44.
    2. Kirsten, Johann F. & Vermeulen, Hester & Van Zyl, Karlien & Du Randt, Gerrie & Du Plessis, H. & Weissnar, Tessa, 2012. "The economic potential for an origin based marketing and certification system for a meat product in South Africa: Perceptions, preferences, and experiments," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 125764, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Lint Barrage & Eric Chyn & Justine Hastings, 2014. "Advertising as Insurance or Commitment? Evidence from the BP Oil Spill," NBER Working Papers 19838, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Mika Kortelainen & Jibonayan Raychaudhuri & Beatrice Roussillon, 2016. "Effects Of Carbon Reduction Labels: Evidence From Scanner Data," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(2), pages 1167-1187, April.
    5. Zhu, Chen & Huang, Rui, 2014. "Heterogeneity in Consumer Responses to Front-of-Package Nutrition Labels: Evidence from a Natural Experiment?," Working Papers 27, University of Connecticut, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Charles J. Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy.
    6. Carroll, Kathryn A. & Samek, Anya Savikhin & Zepeda, Lydia, 2016. "Product Bundling as a Behavioral Nudge: Investigating Consumer Fruit and Vegetable Selection using Dual-Self Theory," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 236130, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    7. Jo, Jisung & Lusk, Jayson L. & Muller, Laurent & Ruffieux, Bernard, 2016. "Value of parsimonious nutritional information in a framed field experiment," Food Policy, Elsevier, pages 124-133.
    8. repec:eee:socmed:v:192:y:2017:i:c:p:18-27 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Li, Shuo & McCluskey, Jill J. & Mittelhammer, Ron C., 2012. "Effects of Healthier Choices on Kid's Menu: A Difference-in-Differences Analysis," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 43(3), November.
    10. Boztuğ, Yasemin & Juhl, Hans Jørn & Elshiewy, Ossama & Jensen, Morten Berg, 2015. "Consumer response to monochrome Guideline Daily Amount nutrition labels," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 1-8.
    11. Liu, Xiaoou & Lopez, Rigoberto & Zhu, Chen, 2015. "Can Voluntary Nutrition Labeling Lead to a Healthier Food Market?," 2016 Allied Social Science Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 3-5, 2016, San Francisco, California 212818, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    12. Bedard, Kelly & Kuhn, Peter, 2015. "Micro-marketing healthier choices: Effects of personalized ordering suggestions on restaurant purchases," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 106-122.
    13. Menapace, Luisa & Raffaelli, Roberta, 2013. "Do ‘locally grown’ claims influence artisanal food purchase? Evidence from a natural field experiment," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150282, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Information; Consumer behavior; Field experiment; Nutrition;

    JEL classification:

    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • M31 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Marketing
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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