Professor of Marketing
Mindfulness; Marketing; Labeling; Cross Cultural Analyses; Pleasure; Portion Size Choice
Emerging research has shown that sensory-based interventions (e.g., inviting people to mindfully focus on the multisensory aspects of eating) can be a viable alternative to nutrition-based interventions (e.g., nutrition labeling) to encourage moderate eating.The authors contribute to this literature in two ways. First, the authors propose a novel and simple sensory-based intervention to increase the appeal of moderate food portions in commercial settings, epicurean labeling, which consists in emphasizing the aesthetic, multisensory properties of the food when describing it on menus or packages. Second, the authors show theory-relevant cross-cultural differences in the effectiveness of this intervention between the United States and France, two food cultures at the opposite ends of the hedonic-utilitarian food attitude spectrum.The authors report the results of a multi-day field experiment at a French cafeteria showing that epicurean labeling, unlike nutrition labeling, reduces intake while increasing the perceived monetary value of the meal thanks to higher savoring. The authors then show in a matched cross-national online experiment that epicurean labeling is more effective in France than in the United States.The authors provide additional evidence of this cross-cultural variation in a study of 9154 food products sold in supermarkets in both countries. The authors find that epicurean labeling is more prevalent, but also more likely to be associated with smaller portions in France than in the United States.While sensory-based interventions are a promising alternative to nutrition-based interventions, it is necessary to develop business-friendly interventions that can be implemented in everyday life, as well as to consider cultural factors that can modulate their effectiveness.