Consumer Visual Processing of Food Labels: Results from an Eye-Tracking Study

Authors

  • Gastón Ares,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centro de Investigación Básica en Psicología (CIBPsi), Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay
    • Departamento de Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos, Facultad de Química, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay
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  • Ana Giménez,

    1. Departamento de Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos, Facultad de Química, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay
    2. Centro de Investigación Básica en Psicología (CIBPsi), Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay
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  • Fernanda Bruzzone,

    1. Departamento de Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos, Facultad de Química, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay
    2. Centro de Investigación Básica en Psicología (CIBPsi), Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay
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  • Leticia Vidal,

    1. Departamento de Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos, Facultad de Química, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay
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  • Lucía Antúnez,

    1. Departamento de Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos, Facultad de Química, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay
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  • Alejandro Maiche

    1. Centro de Investigación Básica en Psicología (CIBPsi), Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay
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Corresponding author. TEL: +5982-9245735; FAX: +5982-9241906; EMAIL: gares@fq.edu.uy

Abstract

Food labels play a key role in attracting consumers' attention and providing information that could largely influence their purchase decisions. The aim of the present work was to evaluate how consumers acquire information from food labels using eye-tracking measures. Fifty-three consumers completed two tasks in which they evaluated perceived healthfulness of the products and willingness to purchase by looking at three unknown labels of three different products (mayonnaise, pan bread and yogurt).

Participants' eye movements were recorded using an eye tracker while evaluating the labels. Results showed that in order to evaluate their willingness to purchase and perceived healthfulness of unknown food labels, consumers directed their attention to selected areas, searching for specific information such as brand, ingredients, nutritional information and the image on the label, regardless of type of product and label design.

Practical Applications

Attention measures based on memory have been reported to be poor indicators of what consumers actually attend to, mainly due to the fact that attention is not necessarily active and conscious. Eye-tracking measures could be a useful way of studying consumers' processing of visual stimuli such as food labels. Results from the present study suggested that attention toward unfamiliar food labels was mainly determined by top-down factors. Consumers mainly scanned the labels, searching for specific information related to brand, composition and nutritional information.

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