Tonight, when you sit down to watch some TV and relax, count the food commercials you see. From food producers to restaurants to grocers, chances are, you'll run into more than one, and for good reason. Food companies see the value in advertising their products to consumers through TV, and other channels like print and radio, as well. However, just how effective are these marketing tools?
According to the University of Miami's School of Business Administration, not as much as a claim made on a label. According to the researchers, consumers perceive product packages as more trustworthy, and perhaps more importantly, as less manipulative, than traditional advertising. Because of this, consumers are more likely to believe a claim made on a package and ultimately purchase it. According to researcher Claudia Townsend:
“Knowing how believable product information is in various mediums can help marketers to decide where to allocate their resources when promoting a product.... We believe our findings are relevant to an array of marketing media beyond packages and ads.... For instance, a claim in a pop-up ad or web banner may also be more believable if there is something like easy click-through to the company’s website emphasizing its proximity to the product."
Interestingly enough, the researchers believe proximity plays a large role in the perceived trustworthiness of a claim. As packages are perceived to be physically closer to the product, most consumers believe them to be more trustworthy. This fact brings up an interesting debate regarding the biggest issue in packaging today: GMO labeling.
Last week, we explored whether or not American consumers truly understood GMO labeling:
"While some of the concerns may just be speculation, it is not far off to believe that consumers will make a decision about GMOs without knowing all the facts. According to a survey from the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, 88% of Americans support the mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms and 91% agree that consumers have the right to know when they purchase or eat products that contain GMOs. However, over 50% of those people acknowledge that they have only a fair or poor understanding of GMOs in food."
With such a large number of Americans being uninformed about GMOs, how will nationwide labeling affect their perception of products? Will consumers see the GMO label and immediately get a negative perception of a product? Will such labeling drive consumers towards non-GMO products or will they ignore it to continue purchasing their favorite products? Most importantly, will they see it as a trustworthy piece of information or not?
Clearly, we will need to wait for future studies and the implementation of the rules before we can get true answers to these questions, but it is interesting food for thought.