Purpose – The number of food products containing nutritional or health claims, such as added calcium for stronger bones, has been increasing. Accordingly, we aimed to understand consumers' perceptions towards products that are considered to be healthier and to know how these perceptions affect their purchase intentions.
Theoretical framework – Based on consumer perception theory and how consumers process and interpret information, we sought to better understand consumer behavior in relation to the use of nutrition claims in marketing communication.
Design/methodology/approach – A survey was conducted via an online questionnaire and responses were obtained from 477 Portuguese consumers.
Findings – The results show that the most relevant characteristics when purchasing food are price and taste. However, the addition of a claim can increase purchase intentions.
Practical & social implications of research – The reasons behind the new offerings by the food industry are related to the growing demand from individuals for products aimed at improving their health status, which has been deteriorating due to factors such as sedentary lifestyles, longer life expectancy, and a poor diet in terms of nutrition. It is important to know if these claims translate into effective changes in purchasing behavior.
Originality/value – The results lead to the conclusion that claims are important in the food choices of the Portuguese respondents, who are less keen on "light" and "lean." When it comes to using claims in communication, in Portugal, it is always better to use a direct, transparent, and rigorous approach; otherwise the consumer will not be induced to buy.
Keywords – consumer behavior, nutrition claims, health claims, food, health perception.
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