Public Release:  How food marketers can help consumers eat better while improving their bottom line

Does food marketing need to make us fat? A review and solutions

Cornell Food & Brand Lab

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IMAGE: Dr. Wansink is co-director of the Cornell University Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs and Professor of Marketing view more

Credit: Brian Wansink

Food marketers are masters at getting people to crave and consume the foods that they promote. In this study authors Dr. Brian Wansink, co-director of the Cornell University Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition and Professor of Marketing and Dr. Pierre Chandon, professor of Marketing at the leading French graduate school of business, INSEAD challenge popular assumptions that link food marketing and obesity. Their findings presented last weekend at the Association for Consumer Research Conference in Vancouver, Canada point to ways in which smart food marketers can use the techniques that peak consumer appetite for calorie-dense fast foods to help people eat better -- and improve their bottom line as well.

"People generally want food that tastes good while being affordable, varied, convenient and healthy -- roughly in that order. Our research suggests that consumption of healthy and unhealthy food respond to the same marketing tactics, particularly price reduction. In this study we present food marketers with a 'win-win' situation in which they can turn the tables, compel consumers to eat healthier foods, and maintain profitability. For example, marketers can steer consumers away from high-calorie sugary drinks by offering meal discounts if a person buys a diet drink -- or by offering a healthy habit loyalty card when consumers opt for milk, juice or water instead of sugary drinks. "When all sides win, no one resists," Wansink said.

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The study's findings are published in the October issue of the journal Nutrition Reviews under the title, "Does Food Marketing Need to Make Us Fat? A Review and Solutions." The study is also discussed in more detail at: http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/outreach/fat.html

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