Information, ingestion, and impulsivity: The impact of technology-enabled healthy food labels on online grocery shopping in impulsive and non-impulsive consumers

Introduction: Unhealthy food consumption is a problem for society, companies, and consumers. This study aims to contribute to knowledge regarding such issues by investigating how technology-enabled healthy food labels can impact food choice in an online grocery store context. We conceptualized unhealthy and healthy food choice as a matter of impulsivity problems. Three technology-enabled healthy food labels were derived based on variables that might impact self-control, and their influence on food choice was investigated.

Methods: The empirical study consisted of three parts. In the first part, participants’ impulsivity was measured using an adjusting delay task. Part two investigated the effects of self-monitoring, pre-commitment, and social comparison-based technology-enabled healthy food labels on food choice in a hypothetical online grocery shopping setting using a choice-based conjoint experiment. Lastly, in the third part, three where demographical questions were asked.

Results: The results (n = 405) show that self-monitoring, pre-commitment, and social comparison-based technology-enabled healthy food labels had the most to least impact on food choice in that order. Furthermore, the results indicate that self-monitoring and pre-commitment labels had more impact on the choice for impulsive compared to non-impulsive participants. Similarly, the results indicate that social comparison had more impact on choice for non-impulsive participants. These findings suggest that self-monitoring of previous healthy food choices might be more effective than pre-commitment based on discounts for healthy food products. However, these differences were minor.

Discussion: This finding has managerial implications as grocery stores might increase their revenue by introducing self-monitoring labels in an online grocery shopping setting. Future research should investigate these technology-enabled healthy food labels in natural food purchase settings