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How and When Grouping Low-Calorie Options Reduces the Benefits of Providing Dish-Specific Calorie Information

Jeffrey R. Parker and Donald R. Lehmann
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 41, No. 1 (June 2014), pp. 213-235
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/675738
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/675738
Page Count: 23
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How and When Grouping Low-Calorie Options Reduces the Benefits of Providing Dish-Specific Calorie Information
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Abstract

To date the effectiveness of inducing lower-calorie choices by providing consumers with calorie information has yielded mixed results. Here four controlled experiments show that adding dish-specific calorie information to menus (calorie posting) tends to result in lower-calorie choices. However, additionally grouping low-calorie dishes into a single “low-calorie” category (calorie organizing) ironically diminishes the positive effects of calorie posting. This outcome appears to be caused by the effect that grouping low-calorie options has on consumers’ consideration sets. When choosing from a calorie-organized menu, consumers are more likely to filter out low-calorie options in the early noncompensatory screening stages of the decision process and, consequently, are less likely to choose low-calorie options. This result disappears when consumers deliberate longer before choosing. These results are important for consumer welfare as well-intentioned restaurateurs (policy makers) may be tempted to institute (mandate) the calorie organization of menus, inadvertently resulting in consumers choosing higher-calorie meals.

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