Consumers think that healthy nutrition is automatically more expensive. They also suspect that when comestibles are more expensive, this is because they are healthier, although there is not a single shred of evidence to sustain this.
This has been shown by a study from the Ohio State University, the Vanderbilt University and the University of Georgia. These conclusions do not only show that manufacturers can ask higher sums for products with a healthy image, but it is also likely that consumers do not believe in a healthy impact if the product is relatively cheap.
"The myth that expensive products are of more value to our health, can have an important impact on consumer behaviour", says chief scientist Rebecca Reczek, marketing professor in the Ohio State University. "The price of a food product in itself appears to have an effect on the perceptions regarding healthy nutrition and even on the aspects of health which are to be considered important. The consumer is constantly bombarded with messages saying that higher prices and good health are somehow related."
"There are indeed a few categories in which healthy alternatives can be more expensive, like for instance some organic or gluten-free products", professor Reczek admits. "But that relation is not always present. Nevertheless, the study has shown that the consumer does not only believe that healthy food will cost more, but also makes purchases based on this perception. It often turns out to be quite difficult to convince the consumer that the cheapest alternative might also be the healthiest option. In order to do this, extra evidence is often required."
According to Reczek, consumers need to be aware of that imprinted prejudice. "They should also be aware that choices regarding healthy food should not be taken based on intuition, but require research and information", the scientist says.