Breaking Bad Habits: How Marketing Incentives Can Lead to Healthy Food Choices

9153746729_9fb261fcdf_zThe rise of processed foods in the past century has brought with it a rising tide of health concerns. Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes have all been linked to diets high in fat, sodium, and sugar, leading many to seek out healthier alternatives. But making the switch from cookies and potato chips to broccoli and apples is easier said than done–so how can consumers start to make better food choices? A recent article from published in Cornell Hospitality Quarterlyentitled “McHealthy: How Marketing Incentives Influence Healthy Food Choices” delves into how certain marketing incentives can help consumers break their unhealthy habits and make better choices. Authors Elisa K. Chan, Robert Kwortnik, and Brian Wansink specifically compare the efficacy of behavioral rewards versus financial discounts in motivating individuals to change their eating habits. The abstract for the article:

Food choices are often habitual, which can perpetuate Current Issue Coverunhealthy behaviors; that is, selection of foods high in sodium, saturated fat, and calories. This article extends previous research by examining how marketing incentives can encourage healthy food choices. Building on research examining marketing incentives, temporal goals, and habitual behavior, this research shows that certain incentives (behavioral rewards vs. financial discounts) affect individuals with healthy and less healthy eating habits differently. A field study conducted at a corporate cafeteria and three lab studies converge on a consistent finding: The effects of marketing incentives on healthy food choice are particularly prominent for people who have less healthy eating habits. Results showed that behavioral rewards generated a 28.5% (vs. 5.5%) increase in salad sales; behavioral rewards also led to 2 pounds more weight loss for individuals with less healthy eating habits. The research offers important implications for scholars, the food industry, consumers, governments, and policy makers.

You can read “McHealthy: How Marketing Incentives Influence Healthy Food Choices” from Cornell Hospitality Quarterly free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to stay current on all of the latest research from Cornell Hospitality QuarterlyClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Image attributed to Sonny Abesamis (CC)
This entry was posted in Change, Macromarketing, Marketing and tagged , , , , , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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