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Researchers Say Food Marketers Can Help Consumers Eat Better

Update Date: Oct 11, 2012 08:46 AM EDT

Many times, at the most unexpected time, when we are not even feeling hungry, an advertisement on TV showing a yummy burger filled with mayonnaise and cheese is enough for us to get tempted enough to drive down to the eating joint and actually buy it! That's just how easily food marketers can get people to crave and consume the foods they promote.

On the same grounds, a study conducted by 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, challenges popular assumptions that link food marketing and obesity.

The findings of the study presented last week at the Association for Consumer Research Conference in Vancouver, Canada, pointed out ways in which the same marketing strategies can be adopted by food marketers to promote healthy food and 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.

Today, 72 percent of television advertising for food promotes candy, cereal, and fast food. Marketing communication enhances consumers' expectations of taste, quality, and social value of a product, Cornell University report says.

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