When Is a Salad Not a Salad? the Impact of Product Category on Perceived Nutritional Value

Caglar Irmak, University of South Carolina, USA
Beth Vallen, Loyola College in Maryland, USA
The results of four studies demonstrate that when identical food items are presented as members of relatively healthy categories (e.g., salad), compared to less healthy categories (e.g., pasta), they are rated as more nutritious and, as a result, are consumed in greater quantities by nutrition experts. These results are explained by the fact that experts (vs. novices) are more likely to rely on category-based heuristics when evaluating products. This research contributes to the emerging body of literature that examines health halos by showing that product category – which might be provided by simple information such as the product name – can drive consumer perceptions of food items as well as resultant eating behavior.
[ to cite ]:
Caglar Irmak and Beth Vallen (2009) ,"When Is a Salad Not a Salad? the Impact of Product Category on Perceived Nutritional Value", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 645-645.