Marketing Science – Misleading Food Package Information

Product Information on Food Packaging

Consumers do not always have it easy when it comes to choosing between different products. The information that is printed on food packaging for example, does lead to confusion as a new study of Clement, et al. (2017) shows.

The research conducted by these scientists has revealed, that so called “potentially misleading elements (PMEs)” can have an impact on the consumer product preference. The researchers hereby distinguished between information that is printed in the form of text or numbers and pictures.

The study reveals that text or numbers and pictures have an analogue impact on the consumer behaviour, with numbers ranking slightly higher than pictures. The authors hereby assume, that simple numbers like showing percentages (e.g. 20% less sugar) may be more easily misunderstood as the consumer does not know how this was actually measured. Pictures on the other hand are normally interpreted more universal and therefore also might have an impact on the consumers’ product perception.

Whereas a PME does not necessarily have to have an impact on the consumers’ choice it still shows that consumers can be misled. Companies therefore need to think about their strategies as especially in the age of social media, misleading product information can lead to a wave of raging consumers.

Jesper Clement, Viktor Smith, Jordan Zlatev, Kerstin Gidlöf, Joost van de Weijer, (2017) “Assessing information on food packages”, European Journal of Marketing, 51 (1), pp. 219-237.



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