The backfire effect of product assortment structure and size on consumers’ healthy grocery choices

01 January 2018 → 31 December 2021
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
No data available
product assortment structure
Project description

Public policy makers and marketers put a lot of effort into stimulating healthy food choices. At the

same time stores are continuously changing by adapting the sequence of products and by offering

bigger assortment sizes. This project looks at whether these in-store interventions might affect

consumers' healthy and unhealthy food choices. We investigate whether the retail trend to position

more healthy food assortments at the store entrance and more unhealthy categories store inwards

makes consumers buy more or less healthy food. We argue that consumers will feel like they

deserve an unhealthy snack when they first encountered and bought healthy products. We also

expect that consumers have less self-control when they have been shopping for a while, leading to

unhealthy choices when they encounter these unhealthy products at the end of the store. To make

consumers buy more healthy instead of unhealthy products, providing a reward like a thumbs up

whenever they buy a healthy product could be a solution. Furthermore, we test whether the trend

of increasing assortment sizes affects healthy choices. We argue that consumers experience choice

overload when confronted with very large assortments and at the same time, they do not

experience a need to justify their choice. To counter this, we propose that making people think

about health makes them choose healthy products, even in very large assortments.