The Potential Use of Visual Packaging Elements as Nudges - An Analysis on the Example of the EU Health Claims Regime
Klaus Mathis/Avishalom Tor (eds.), Nudging – Possibilities, Limitations and Applications in European Law and Economics, Cham/Heidelberg/New York/Dordrecht/London 2016, Forthcoming
Wageningen Working Papers in Law and Governance 5/2015
33 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2015
Date Written: June 16, 2015
Regulators legislate businesses’ use of claims on product packaging by mostly focusing on textual claims and the extent to which they could potentially mislead consumers. Interpreting textual claims generally requires consumers to engage in extensive and deliberate processing (so-called type 2 processing in dual processing models in social psychology). In real life competitive choice settings, however, businesses preferably make use of colours and other visual elements to successfully attract consumers. In case this approach supports consumers in making healthier food decisions, it can be seen as a form of nudging, as this approach largely appeals to consumers’ reactive, intuitive modes of decision making (i.e., system 1 processing). Nevertheless, visuals may mislead consumers to a larger extent than textual claims in that they overpromise health benefits of consuming the product. In order to effectively regulate health claims in the EU, we claim that regulation has to devote attention to the regulation of pictorial claims. We will first illustrate such a mechanism and its potential for effective nudging on the example of health and nutrition claims in the EU. We will then investigate on the example of the differences between textual and pictorial claims whether the EU health claims regulation is effective in making sure that sales techniques of food companies are being regulated as effective nudging instead of misleading marketing tactics.
Keywords: health claims, visual packaging, nudge, EU law
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation