Do Educational Campaigns for On-Shelf Nutritional Labeling Work?
59 Pages Posted: 1 Jan 2020
Date Written: November 16, 2019
Front-of-package and on-shelf nutrition labelling systems in supermarkets, such as Guiding Stars, have been shown to lead to only modest increases in the purchase of more nutritious foods. Educational campaigns may increase their use if there is 1) a lack of consumer awareness and/or understanding of the labels, and 2) the information provided lead consumers to prefer different products. We study a large-scale, national campaign for Guiding Stars conducted by a grocery retailer in Canada who implemented the program. Using detailed transaction data, we find only a small increase in the purchase of higher star-rated foods during the campaign, driven by consumers who were already purchasing healthy products, and 40-50% of the effect disappears after the campaign’s conclusion. To explain the limited response, exit surveys were conducted outside of stores before and after the campaign. Awareness and understanding of the nutrition labelling system increased marginally after the campaign, with no increases in self-reported use. To have impact, on-shelf labelling programs must achieve higher levels of awareness and understanding and increase desired usage of the information.
Keywords: health, nutritional labelling, education, marketing
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