No evidence that consumption and reward words on labels increase the appeal of bottled water

Claassen, M. A., Rusz, D. and Papies, E. (2022) No evidence that consumption and reward words on labels increase the appeal of bottled water. Food Quality and Preference, 96, 104403. (doi: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2021.104403)

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Many people consume too much sugar from sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and would benefit from drinking water instead. Previous research has shown that taste and reward expectations play a key role in food and drink choices, and that thinking about drinks in terms of consuming and enjoying them (i.e., simulations) predicts desire and intake. Here, we examined whether labels using consumption and reward words increased the appeal of water. In three pre-registered experiments with regular consumers of SSBs (N = 1355), we presented numerous different labels of fictitious water brands with words related to the rewarding consumption experience of water (e.g., “refreshing”, “cool”), with conventional descriptions of water that emphasised its origin and purity, or with brand names only. We assessed anticipated reward of water, desire for water (Exp. 1, 2, 3), simulations of drinking water, and water attractiveness (Exp. 2 and 3). Contrary to our expectations, waters with consumption and reward-focused labels were not rated more favourably than waters with conventional labels, but both were rated higher than brand-only labels. Our findings suggest that the appeal of water cannot easily be increased by emphasising the rewarding consumption experience through language only, possibly because consumers may have a relatively fixed representation of what water tastes and feels like. Future research could test interventions that include stronger sensory information such as images to increase the appeal of water among SSB consumers.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Rusz, Ms Dorottya and Claassen, Mrs Maria Almudena and Papies, Dr Esther
Creator Roles:
Claassen, M. A.Investigation, Formal analysis, Writing – original draft
Rusz, D.Conceptualization, Investigation
Papies, E. K.Conceptualization, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Claassen, M. A., Rusz, D., and Papies, E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Food Quality and Preference
ISSN (Online):1873-6343
Published Online:16 September 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Food Quality and Preference 96:104403
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
300426The psychology of sugary drinks: The role of consumption and reward simulationsEsther PapiesEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/R005419/1Psychology