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Researcher portrait: Andrea Gröppel-Klein

Groeppel-Klein revisedAndrea Gröppel-Klein is Professor of Marketing and Director of the Institute for Consumer and Behavioural Research at Saarland University. For CLYMBOL, together with her team, she analysed the impact of claims and symbols on in-store purchase decisions, using eye-tracking and electrodermal measures.

 

How did you get involved in the CLYMBOL project?

I was already involved in the EU-Project FLABEL which researched whether nutrition information that is shown on the front of the packaging helps consumers to make healthier buying decisions. My team at Saarland University was responsible for the in-store experiments and it was fascinating to analyse the actual impact of nutrition information at the Point-of-Sale (POS). Consumers often make in-store decisions within seconds. Grocery shopping is highly habitualised and shoppers have learned in the past what food they like. Disrupting these mechanisms to guide consumers to avoid less healthful products is a very ambitious task. The same is true for the design of health claims and symbols, the topic of the CLYMBOL-project.

 

What do you do for the project?

We investigate the impact of health claims, nutrition claims, symbols and pictorial information on consumer decision-making at the Point-of-Sale. Visual attention to the product packaging and especially to the health claims is of major importance. We analyse consumers’ attention to these cues via eye tracking. We are also interested whether health claims (in comparison to nutrition claims and general claims) evoke more or less arousal. Arousal is the fundamental feature of human behaviour. Without arousal no emotions, motivations or cognitions would occur. The higher the arousal evoked by a claim the higher is the reaction towards that stimulus, i.e. in our case food choice and purchase. We measured arousal via electrodermal reactions and to simulate a Point-of-Sales situation, we used virtual shelves. Lastly, we compared our psycho-physiological data with real sales data. More specifically, we compared the sales of an olive oil sold in a real supermarket of one of our CLYMBOL partners, GLOBUS. The brand and the packaging were the same for all olive oils but it was sold in three variations, with three different claims in three different sales periods.

 

What is the outcome of your research?

Our research results show that the health claim evoked less attention and attraction than the two other stimuli. We also found the lowest sales for olive oils carrying the health claim, meaning that this product-claim combination was not only less attractive for consumers in our lab studies but also showed the lowest performance in our market tests. We assume (and this hypothesis is now tested in an additional experiment) that the health claim was too complex and too difficult to understand and thus evoked an (un-)conscious avoidance reaction. We further assume that the combination matters: Health claims should be supported by meaningful pictures since consumers use and interpret pictorial information within seconds and thus may be guided in their choices.

 

What impact do you hope your research will have?

The impact we hope this research has is to inform all stakeholders so they can create health claims that are meaningful to the consumers, that can be understood immediately, have a higher chance to be processed and have a higher impact on healthy food choices.

 

About the person

Andrea Gröppel-Klein is Professor of Marketing and Director of the Institute for Consumer and Behavioural Research at Saarland University. She is on several editorial boards, has published numerous articles in journals and works as a reviewer and editor for various national and international journals. 

 

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