Department of Management

Motivation outweighs ability in explaining European consumers' use of health claims

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review

  • Christine Hoefkens
  • ,
  • Yung Hung
  • ,
  • Sophie Hieke, Denmark
  • Klaus G Grunert
  • Wim Verbeke, Ghent University, Belgium
Introduction: Health claims promise health benefits beyond basic nutrition, but their impact on food choices is largely determined by consumers’ motivation and ability to process these claims.
Objectives: This study aimed at investigating the role of consumers’ motivation and ability to process health claims and some determinants (interest in healthy eating, need for information, knowledge) in explaining the use of health claims.
Method / Design: Data were collected in spring 2014 through a cross-sectional quantitative online survey with samples representative for age, gender and region in 10 European countries: United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Slovenia, Czech Republic, France, Denmark, Greece and Lithuania (n=5,337). Structural equation modelling was used to simultaneously estimate the strength and direction of relationships between motivation and ability to process, various determinants, and use of health claims.
Results: Motivation to process emerged as a key determinant of European consumers’ use of health claims. Ability to process impacted claim use to a much smaller extent, but was strongly influenced by the motivation to process. In order to be motivated, consumers are required to have a need for health-related information, which was in turn driven by an interest in healthy eating. Compared to objective knowledge (both about nutrition and health claims), a higher subjective knowledge about the healthiness of food increased consumers’ ability to process health claims. Moreover, participants with greater objective knowledge were found to be less able to process health claims. Both types of objective knowledge were positively related.
Conclusions: Motivation rather than the ability determines European consumers’ use of health claims. Therefore, food and nutrition policy should focus on ways to improve consumers’ motivation to process health claims by increasing their interest in healthy eating and their need for health-related information.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event12th European Nutrition Conference - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 20 Oct 201523 Oct 2015
Conference number: 12th


Conference12th European Nutrition Conference

    Research areas

  • Health claims, Motivation to process, Ability to process, Use

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