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Appetite. 2005 Jun;44(3):299-308.

Functional foods: health claim-food product compatibility and the impact of health claim framing on consumer evaluation.

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Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Group, Department of Social Sciences, Wageningen University, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Two studies are reported, which aim to strengthen the scientific underpinning of strategic decisions regarding functional food development, as to (1) which health benefits to claim, (2) with which product (category), and (3) in which communication format. The first exploratory study is a secondary analysis of 10 different health claims systematically combined with 10 different food carriers to evaluate their combined suitability for functional food positioning. The results show that consumers tend to prefer functional food concepts that primarily communicate disease-related health benefits in carriers with a healthy image or health positioning history. Study 2 examines health claim format and systematically varies the way in which specific health benefits are being communicated to the consumer. Two physiologically oriented claims (heart disease and osteoporosis) and two psychologically oriented food claims (stress and lack of energy) are expressed in enhanced function format versus disease risk reduction format. Also, it includes the individual difference variable of 'regulatory focus' and the health status of the respondent to explore how these factors impact health claim evaluation. The results show that consumer evaluations primarily differ to the extent that health claims are personally relevant in addressing an experienced disease state. Framing is important, but its effect differs by health benefit. No strong effects for consumers' regulatory focus were found. Underlying mechanisms of these effects and their implications for the development of functional foods are discussed.

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