Here’s a question for you as a consumer: Do food calorie counts affect your behavior? Why or why not?
Here’s a question for you as a food marketer: Do you support calorie counts on restaurant menus and for vending machine food? Why or why not?
Well, next year, new Food and Drug Administration rules on calorie counts will go into effect. As reported by the NY Times:
“Now it’s official. Starting next November, menus in many places where Americans eat — like chain restaurants and some movie theaters, convenience stores, and amusement parks — will have to list calories. Consumer health advocates were jubilant when the Food and Drug Administration announced the new policy. Many had fought for the rule for more than a decade, believing it would be a major weapon in the fight against obesity.”
“But will it? The evidence on whether menu labeling works — either to move the national needle on obesity, or to reduce the number of calories an individual consumes after looking at a menu — is pretty skimpy, in part because the practice hasn’t been around that long.”
Click the image to read a lot more.
“Calorie information, like this at a Starbucks in New York City, will become a more common sight in the future.” Photo Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images
For marketers, there is a lot of consumer psychology that comes into play when communicating with shoppers. This is especially true with packaging — whether it be color, shape, or size.
Since we often overindulge when we eat (at least, many of us :-)), package size has taken on even more importance.
According to Sarah Nassauer, writing for the Wall Street Journal: “Did you really eat that many cookies? Packaged-food makers might know the answer, even if you don’t. Aware that people snack a lot throughout the day, they continue to introduce new packaging that encourages consumers to eat their food anytime they have an urge to nibble, what some executives have dubbed ‘hand-to-mouth’ eating.”
And according to the WSJ, marketers also know this about the “Psychology of Small Packaging”:
- “Hershey says we more often eat wrapped candy alone, while we might grab unwrapped candy out of a bowl while chatting with friends.”
- “When given several smaller packages of food, we eat less than when given the same amount of food in one large pack.”
- “Along with old standbys like potato chips, consumers can now buy smaller packs of dried fruit and hummus.”
- “Research shows that people are poor judges of when to stop eating.”
Click the image for a WSJ video.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI): “is an independent national benchmark of customer satisfaction with the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the United States. Each year, roughly 70,000 customers are surveyed about the products and services they use the most. The survey data serve as inputs to an econometric model that benchmarks customer satisfaction with more than 230 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors, as well as over 100 services, programs, and Web sites of federal government agencies.”
For thirteen consecutive years, Heinz has been the highest-rated food manufacturer according to ACSI, ahead of Quaker, Mars, Nestle, Kellogg, General Mills, and many other firms. Heinz’s brands include Heinz, Ore-Ida, and TGI Fridays (branded food items).
Click the ACSI logo to see how satisfied U.S. consumers are with food manufacturers.