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Can Information Costs Affect Consumer Choice?—Nutritional Labels in a Supermarket Experiment—


  • Kiesel, Kristin
  • Villas-Boas, Sofia Berto


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.

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  • Kiesel, Kristin & Villas-Boas, Sofia Berto, 2010. "Can Information Costs Affect Consumer Choice?—Nutritional Labels in a Supermarket Experiment—," 115th Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, September 15-17, 2010, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany 116433, European Association of Agricultural Economists;Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:eaa115:116433

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jo, Jisung & Lusk, Jayson L. & Muller, Laurent & Ruffieux, Bernard, 2016. "Value of parsimonious nutritional information in a framed field experiment," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 124-133.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Allais, Olivier & Etilé, Fabrice & Lecocq, Sébastien, 2015. "Mandatory labels, taxes and market forces: An empirical evaluation of fat policies," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 27-44.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    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. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. repec:eee:socmed:v:192:y:2017:i:c:p:18-27 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Nutritional labeling; information cost; scanner data; market-level experiment; difference-in-differences; synthetic control method; Agricultural and Food Policy; Consumer/Household Economics; Demand and Price Analysis; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Food Security and Poverty; Health Economics and Policy; C93; D01; D18; D83; L51;

    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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