Consumer understanding, interpretation and perceived levels of personal responsibility in relation to satiety-related claims.

Research paper by Els M EM Bilman, Ellen van Ev Kleef, David J DJ Mela, Toine T Hulshof, Hans C M HC van Trijp

Indexed on: 31 Jul '12Published on: 31 Jul '12Published in: Appetite


The aim of this study was to explore (a) whether and how consumers may (over-) interpret satiety claims, and (b) whether and to what extent consumers recognize that personal efforts are required to realize possible satiety-related or weight loss benefits. Following means-end chain theory, we explored for a number of satiety claims the extent of inference-making to higher-level benefits than actually stated in the claim, using internet-based questions and tasks. Respondents (N=1504) in U.K., France, Italy and Germany participated in the study. The majority of these respondents correctly interpret satiety-related claims; i.e. they largely limit their interpretation to what was actually stated. They do not expect a "magic bullet" effect, but understand that personal efforts are required to translate product attributes into potential weight control benefits. Less-restrained eaters were at lower risk for over-interpreting satiety-related claims, whilst respondents with a stronger belief that their weight is something that they can control accept more personal responsibility, and better understand that personal efforts are required to be effective in weight control. Overall, these results indicate there is likely to be a relatively low level of consumer misinterpretation of satiety-related claims on food products.