Mmm, information… and not just information found in blogs.
Providing product information can bring experiences of the product different to experiences without the information (Imm, Lee & Lee, 2012). Information can be that ingredient that makes food more delicious (Imm et al., 2012). Informing participants of the traditional processing of pãté de champagne, a French dish, can improve opinions of the dish (Siret & Issanchou, 2000). Presenting the origin can increase the ratings of virgin olive oil (Caporale, Policastro, Carlucci & Monteleone, 2006). Showing that a drink is from a particular brand can increase the preference for the drink (McClure, Li, Tomlin, Cypert, Montague & Montague, 2004). What’s more, the list can go on as the taste judgement of food is not solely up to the sense of taste (Yeomans, Chambers Blumenthal & Blake, 2008). Areas of the brain not involved in the direct sensory processing of flavours are linked to sensory areas and can be activated when tasting (Grabenhorst, Rolls & Bilderbeck, 2008). These are areas of the brain that could process information in the form of words (Grabenhorst et al., 2008). Hence, the senses can be influenced by information.
Are you eating the food or the menu? The menu, please!
This impact of information on perception is relevant to non-food products as well, as the effectiveness of even medications is not determined entirely by how the substances acts on the body (Wampold, Minami, Tierney, Baskin & Bhati, 2005). For example, the suggestion that a supposedly non-effective drug can treat depression can cause a few users to experience less depression symptoms (Wampold et al., 2005). Thus, providing information may be worth considering outside the food industry. However, selling non-effective substances as medicine can lead to a very bad end for consumers though (Staessen et al., 1997). I do not recommend it at all in medicine.
Furthermore, the power of information can come into effect before the point of trial (Wansink, Painter & Ittersum, 2001). The use of descriptive product labels in menu can affect product sales by an increase of a tasty 27% (Wansink, Painter & Ittersum, 2001). This use of descriptive labels, such as “X-Ray Carrots”, was also effective in promoting hot vegetable purchases in elementary school cafeterias (Wansink, Just, Payne & Klinger, 2012). Hence, descriptive information can be important in gaining more purchases.
Companies may have to be wary, however, of relying on consumers seeing and remembering adverts and all their attractive words, especially since packages can be and have been an important platform for information (Butkevičienė, Stravinskienė & Rūtelionė, 2008). Consumers, in general, consider package information highly during decision-making (Kuvykaite, Dovaliene & Navickiene, 2009). Hence, packages can be a prime place to entice consumers with information.
Marks & Spencer’s Roasting Potatoes. Personally, I found this sounded edible, which is an important attribute of food to me.
Still, a balance of information quantity may also be needed. Wansink (2003a) found that there should be smaller pieces of information on the front of packages. Meanwhile, more information was needed at the back for higher ratings of trustworthiness (Wansink, 2003a).
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman, part of the His Dark Materials Trilogy
Nevertheless, information can also harm perceptions of products (Poelman, Mojet, Lyon & Sefa-Dedeh, 2008). A mention of an unwanted, phantom ingredient, a non-existent substance in a product, can decrease ratings of food items (Wansink, 2003b). In addition, people may have different attitudes to words such as “fair trade” (Poelman et al., 2008). Some love, some hate fair trade products, while others are in between that love-hate scale (Poelman et al., 2008). Wansink (2003b) also highlighted that the choice of words used as information is important. Uses of the word “vegetarian” was more effective than “soy”, and smoked salmon-flavoured ice cream with the label “savoury yoghurt” was rated better than with the label of “savoury ice cream” (Yeomans et al., 2008; Wansink, 2003b). So be careful!
In terms of deliberately deterring people, information labels are more effective than warning labels (Bushman, 1998). Bushman (1998) found that warning labels against eating full-fat products encouraged more people to try full-fat products than information labels stating how much fat the product contains. Though this supports the effectiveness of information labels, this may also mean that information labels are better at stopping purchases than warning labels even if it is an accident. Therefore, information can be effective in both the promotion and demotion of products, making information a great tool in the world of consumption that has to be used caution.
Here is some information in a song:
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