Signals with Depth Effect

Small “nudges”, such as the placement of the “Nutri-Score” on packaging, influence buying behaviour: This is suggested by research results from the Leuphana University of Lüneburg and the Nordakademie.

Can consumers be influenced by this if the “Nutri-Score” food traffic light is placed on the packaging? Questions such as these have been investigated by a research group of the Leuphana University of Lüneburg and the Nordakademie in a decision experiment. The researchers investigated in detail the influence of different packaging features on customers’ decision to choose the meat or vegetable variant of lasagne preparations. “The experiment provides information about which representations on packaging help to better implement one’s own preferences for healthier and more sustainable food,” explains Prof. Dr. Stefan Schaltegger from the Chair for Sustainability Management at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

“Nudges” as “enhancers“

All in all, the researchers conclude that the small “nudges” are effective. Especially “sustainability-motivated people” respond to this in experiments and more often choose the vegetable variety if elements such as the “Nutri-Score” are attached to the packaging. Passionate meat eaters, on the other hand, have largely ignored the indications.

For their investigation, the researchers used the reactions of around 500 test participants. The study is based on research into the so-called nudging concept, which goes back to the economist Richard H. Thaler and the lawyer Cass Sunstein. At the heart of the concept is the question of how behaviour can be strengthened in a certain direction without bans or economic incentives.

“Information and education campaigns for climate-friendly and healthy food consumption are important, but have so far hardly changed everyday purchasing behaviour,” says Dr. Holger Petersen, Professor of Business Administration with a focus on sustainability management. By improving the design of food packaging, however, it could be possible to help sustainability- and health-oriented consumers to actually implement their basic decision for a sustainable diet when shopping, his colleague Schaltegger from Leuphana sums up.

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