AdAge just recently talked about how calorie data posted on the menus of New York chain restaurants are changing the way New Yorkers eat. While of course, the postings are not hurting business, restaurants are selling more lower-calorie alternatives and hitting customers just above the belt.
Read the entire article here
Bob Goldin, from Chicago-based Technomic, which conducted the study says, “It appears from what consumers are saying, that they are ordering differently, not that they wouldn’t go.”
What is interesting about this entire exercise is that consumer habits have been changed by merely posting information on foods. Consumers always had a fair idea of the bad calories they were consuming at these joints, but the moment this actual information became available, they realized what the real damage is.
Some 86% of the participants said they were surprised by the calorie information, and 82% said they were changing their consumption habits because of it, by choosing lower-calorie alternatives.
No big advertising campaign, no mudslinging, no “eat healthy” marketing initiatives. Just one big board with all calorie counts. That was what did them in. Simple, huh? In trying to understand why this actually worked is the more fun part.
No matter which public topic you discuss or which personal aspect you worry about – you need reasons for your opinion and argumentation. Moreover, this ability of reasoning is responsible for how you make decisions and choose among alternatives. Taking a leaf from understanding neurobiology of human behaviour, we can attribute this change of behaviour to availability – Things that are more easily remembered are judged to be more prevalent. This acts as a shortcut for our reasoning and we tend to select the first solution that becomes conscious.
It was just simple availability of the information that influenced peoples’ reasons according to their own opinion without them even realising it. When no chains displayed their calorie counts, every one of them was an equal-opportunity offender. It didn’t really matter what you ate there, because all food was subconsciously seen as bad. The minute you know what you’re eating on the basis of this availability heuristic, it impacts what you order.
No wonder, 60% of the respondents said calorie disclosure affected where they ate, and 62% of New Yorkers sought restaurants with healthier options.
Chew on this a little, will you?