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

See all articles by Kai P. Purnhagen

Kai P. Purnhagen

Wageningen University; Erasmus University of Rotterdam - Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics

Erica van Herpen

Wageningen UR

Ellen van Kleef

Wageningen UR

Date Written: June 16, 2015

Abstract

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

Purnhagen, Kai Peter and van Herpen, Erica and van Kleef, Ellen, The Potential Use of Visual Packaging Elements as Nudges - An Analysis on the Example of the EU Health Claims Regime (June 16, 2015). Klaus Mathis/Avishalom Tor (eds.), Nudging – Possibilities, Limitations and Applications in European Law and Economics, Cham/Heidelberg/New York/Dordrecht/London 2016, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2619174

Kai Peter Purnhagen (Contact Author)

Wageningen University ( email )

Hollandseweg 1
Wageningen, 6706KN
Netherlands

Erasmus University of Rotterdam - Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
PO box 1738
Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

Erica Van Herpen

Wageningen UR ( email )

Hollandseweg 1
Wageningen, 6706KN
Netherlands

Ellen Van Kleef

Wageningen UR ( email )

Hollandseweg 1
6706KN
Netherlands

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