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Food Brand Names Change Perceptions

Can you hear the nutrition cues?

Food brand names and consumer perceptions

Food manufacturers who want consumers to view their healthy products as being, well, healthy should carefully consider how their food brand names roll off the tongue. As reported in Food Quality and Performance, the perception of healthfulness is influenced not just by nutrition but also by how a product name sounds when spoken.

Using fictitious food brand names, researchers discovered that certain phenomes present in a name affected whether people viewed a product as healthful or not. (A phenome is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language.) In particular, phenome sounds with higher frequencies (e.g., /f, s, i, e/) were perceived to be more nourishing than sounds with lower frequencies (e.g., /b, d, g, o, u/). The effect was more pronounced for savory foods than sweet items. Sounds like good information for marketers!

See also: A New Approach to Food Labeling

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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