The Impact of Nutrition Claims on SKU Choice: An Investigation of the Moderating Impact of SKU and Category Characteristics

Niels Holtrop, Kathleen Cleeren, Kelly Geyskens, and Peter Verhoef, 2020, 20-102

With growing emphasis on healthy lifestyles, manufacturers often try to persuade consumers by using nutrition claims on their packaging. The question is, how much do such claims have an effect in actual grocery choice situations, where shoppers encounter a large variety of SKUs and large amounts of information?

In this study, Niels Holtrop, Kathleen Cleeren, Kelly Geyskens and Peter Verhoef investigate the effect of nutrition claims on the consumer´s SKU choice in a grocery context. They use an extensive dataset on U.K. household product purchases containing 1,765 SKUs and 1,004 nutrition claims, across 29 food categories. Using an attribute-based choice model, they investigate whether nutrition claims influence the choice of an SKU in the presence of other factors that drive consumer choice, such as SKU price, discounts, brand and nutritional value.

Among their findings:

  • On average, nutrition claims have a positive effect on SKU choice.
  • The results indicate strong variability across SKUs. In particular, nutrition claims are more effective for strong brands, relatively healthier SKUs, and SKUs with low discounts.
  • The results also indicate strong variability across categories. Nutrition claims are more effective in healthy categories, categories with a high advertising intensity and low-promotion intensity, and in low-involvement categories.

Put into Practice

About 30% of food and beverages carry nutrition claims. While this study suggests that such claims have a positive effect on SKU choice overall, there is strong variability across products and categories.

  • Strong brands with smaller discounts benefit from products with nutrition claims, especially for products that are seen as healthy alternatives within their category. 
  • Nutrition claims are more likely to increase consumer choice in low-involvement categories that are considered healthy, with a high advertising and a low promotion intensity.  



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