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Pennies vs. Pounds: How 'supersizing' could actually lead to healthier choices

Date:
January 2, 2014
Source:
Vanderbilt University
Summary:
New research has found that consumers may be just as willing to buy healthy food if they feel they’re still getting a "supersize" deal.

You're trying to eat right. You're exercising. Soon the pounds will melt off. But then your wallet starts weighing you down, literally. The problem? "Supersizing." Consumers often can't pass up a 'supersize' deal, even if it makes them fat.

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"We know the health implications of a giant latte or supersized fries, so a little justification through feeling financially savvy and saving money makes us feel better about our decision and increases consumption," said Vanderbilt marketing researcher Kelly L. Haws.

But new research by Haws and co-author Karen Winterich found that consumers may be just as willing to buy healthy food if they feel they're still getting a deal.

"One of the studies in our research paper shows similar 'supersizing' effects happening with the purchase of baby carrots. Consumers are very attracted to deals in general and saving money per unit is very appealing to us, even when the deal is a larger bag of baby carrots," said Haws.

Haws found that by feeding into consumers' desire to get a bargain, the same economic "supersizing" mindset that leads to dangerously unhealthy choices could help some people with healthier options as well.

"There's no question in my mind we would get many more consumers to choose the smaller entre size if the price were exactly proportional to the size of food that they're receiving," said Haws.

The research also found that reminders of nutritional goals -- such as signs -- can have some mitigating effect on the harmful effects of supersizing.

THE PHRASE THAT PAYS

The term "supersizing" was coined by the McDonald's corporation in the mid-1990s to denote the practice of selling larger portions of fries and drinks for disproportionately small increases in price.

McDonald's dropped the term by the early 2000's. But it's an effective business practice that lives on, especially in the fast food industry.

Haws said that businesses are taking what they've learned about the consumer mindset to the healthier side as well with pre-packaged smaller quantities such as "100 calorie packs."

FOLLOW THE FRENCH, NOT FRENCH FRIES

Winterich and Haws say American consumers would be wise to follow the lead of the French if they wish to indulge in high caloric foods.

"That is, consumers may eat indulgent foods as the French are perceived to do, yet if they do so in small quantities, they should avoid excessive weight gain."

And avoid supersizing.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Vanderbilt University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Karen Winterich, Kelly L. Haws. When Value Trumps Health in a Supersized World. Journal of Marketing, January 2014

Cite This Page:

Vanderbilt University. "Pennies vs. Pounds: How 'supersizing' could actually lead to healthier choices." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140102112037.htm>.
Vanderbilt University. (2014, January 2). Pennies vs. Pounds: How 'supersizing' could actually lead to healthier choices. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140102112037.htm
Vanderbilt University. "Pennies vs. Pounds: How 'supersizing' could actually lead to healthier choices." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140102112037.htm (accessed February 28, 2015).

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