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Do They Have Your Number? Understanding the Moderating Role of Format Effects and Consumer Numeracy for Quantitative Front-of-Package Nutrition Claims

Authors

  • ANDREA H. TANGARI,

  • SCOT BURTON,

  • CASSANDRA DAVIS


  • Andrea H. Tangari (andrea.tangari@wayne.edu) is an Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing, Wayne State University, Scot Burton (sburton@walton.uark.edu) is a Distinguished Professor and Wal-Mart Chair, Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas, and Cassandra Davis (cdavis@walton.uark.edu) is a PhD Student, Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas.

Abstract

Front-of-package (FOP) nutrient content claims are often used by food manufacturers to promote the nutrition levels of their products. In this research, two studies examine the influence of the numerical format (either percentages or absolute numbers) presented on FOP-reduced nutrient content claims and the moderating influence of consumers' numeracy levels (i.e., consumers' ability to interpret numbers). Low numerate consumers are more strongly influenced by the label's numerical format, but results differ across nutrition attributes linked to cardiovascular disease risk. For saturated fat, low numerate consumers had more favorable evaluations of the product that had a label presented in a percent format compared to an absolute unit format. In contrast, the moderating effect of numeracy had little effect on the format of reduced sodium claims. Implications are offered for policymakers, consumer researchers, and food manufacturers.

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