The role of self- and functional congruity in food advertising
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This research investigated the empirical relationships among individual propensities, food product types, attribute-based ad appeal types, consumer psychological motivations, and ad-related responses. A multi-stage research procedure was executed to experimentally test a series of hypotheses and a research question. Key results of this research show that: - Among the three types of Health and Nutrition-Related (HNR) claims in the analyzed magazine food advertisements, nutrient-content claims were present overwhelmingly more frequently than structure/function and health claims. - Consumers’ unhealthy = tasty intuition was a stronger influence on ad responses than the influence of health halos in the form of nutrient-content associated attribute-based ad appeals. - Consumers’ self-congruity and functional-congruity have different predictive power across the combinations of food products and attribute-based appeal types. - As consumers are more involved in health and nutrition-related issues, they evaluate the utilitarian value of nutrient-content claims in food advertisements (functional-congruity) more thoroughly than consumers who are less involved. These results provide several theoretical and practical implications not only for advertising practitioners on how to use HNR claims more effectively, but also for public health officials on why inappropriate HNR claims in food advertising need to be regulated.