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Athletic abs or big bellies: The impact of imagery, arousal levels, and health consciousness on consumers’ attitudes towards plant-based protein products

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Research suggests that health-related imagery influences consumers’ product attitudes, and that both appetitive, positively framed and aversive, negatively framed imagery can be used to boost health-related responses. Arousal has been suggested as a mechanism driving such responses, but few studies in food-related consumer research have examined the link between arousal and consumers’ product attitudes. The present cross-national study, involving almost 1000 consumers (N = 959) from Denmark, Germany, Spain, and the UK, experimentally investigated whether prior exposure to healthy (vs. unhealthy) imagery influences consumers’ attitudes towards a plant-based protein product. Furthermore, the study examined whether the impact of imagery type on consumers’ product attitudes would be mediated by the arousal levels evoked by the imagery, and whether this presumed effect would be moderated by health consciousness. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the imagery conditions (healthy, unhealthy), after which they stated their arousal levels, product attitudes, health consciousness, and product-related emotions. The results revealed that arousal mediates the impact of exposure to healthy (vs. unhealthy) imagery on consumers’ product attitudes, such that healthy imagery outperforms unhealthy imagery. This effect was particularly powerful among health conscious consumers. Taken together, these findings suggest that reliance on communication campaigns, advertising efforts, and marketing messages that induces arousal seems to effectively bolster consumers’ product attitudes, with potential downstream effects on purchase and choice behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104067
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Volume87
Number of pages6
ISSN0950-3293
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

    Research areas

  • Arousal, Attitude, Food choice questionnaire, Health consciousness, Imagery, Plant-protein

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