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Helping consumers with a front-of-pack label: numbers or colours? Experimental comparison between Guideline Daily Amount and Traffic Light in a diet building exercice


  • Crosetto, P.
  • Muller, L.
  • Ruffieux, B.


This paper contributes to the debate on front-of-pack nutritional labels. Because of their dissimilar formats, Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) and Traffic Light (TL) may trigger different responses among consumers. While GDA is comprehensive and cognitively demanding, information is coarser and more salient in TL. We implement an incentivized laboratory experiment to assess the relative performance of GDA and TL labelling schemes in assisting consumers to build a healthy daily diet. Participants must compose a daily diet, choosing from a finite set of products, and are paid a fixed cash amount only if the diet satisfies pre-determined nutritional goals. Goals correspond to the guideline daily amount values for different nutritional attributes, whose number varies from 1 (kcal) to 7 (kcal, fat, sugar, salt, fibre, vitamin C and calcium). Three different labels, GDA, TL and a combined GDATL are provided. Results show that GDA performs better than TL when subjects do not face time constraints. When time is limited however, TL and GDA have identical efficacy with 4 nutritional goals, and TL even outperforms GDA with 7 nutritional goals.

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  • Crosetto, P. & Muller, L. & Ruffieux, B., 2015. "Helping consumers with a front-of-pack label: numbers or colours? Experimental comparison between Guideline Daily Amount and Traffic Light in a diet building exercice," Working Papers 2015-10, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
  • Handle: RePEc:gbl:wpaper:2015-10

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Malhotra, Naresh K, 1982. "Information Load and Consumer Decision Making," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(4), pages 419-430, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. S. Marette & L. Nabec & F. Durieux, 2019. "Improving Nutritional Quality of Consumers’ Food Purchases With Traffic-Lights Labels: An Experimental Analysis," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 377-395, September.
    2. Azzurra Annunziata & Angela Mariani, 2016. "The role of nutritional labeling in promoting healthier food choices: a review of the major issues in the EU," RIVISTA DI STUDI SULLA SOSTENIBILITA', FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(2), pages 107-119.
    3. Muller, L. & Prevost, M., 2016. "What cognitive sciences have to say about the impacts of nutritional labelling formats," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 17-29.

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    More about this item


    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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