An analysis of consumer perceptions, attitudes, visual attention allocation, and willingness to pay for clean label food items
Stanton, Caitlin A.
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As consumers have become increasingly concerned about the ingredients and processes used in food manufacturing, they have started to demand foods that are free from artificial ingredients, natural, organic, and non-GMO. Thus, the clean label trend emerged. This study examined consumers’ perceptions, attitudes, willingness to pay, and visual attention allocation toward clean label food items. A standard definition for clean labels has yet to be developed; therefore, several commonly associated attributes were tested to determine how consumers perceive the clean label in relation to each attribute. Four variations of a clean label were designed, including a control without a label, and placed on two researcher-developed products. A sample of 117 undergraduate and graduate students at Texas Tech University were randomly assigned to view one of the four label conditions, providing their insight for two products with their label. Results from this study demonstrate a lack of awareness surrounding the clean label trend, even as participants shared a desire to consume foods that fit the clean label description. Participants indicated higher perceptions and more favorable attitudes toward labels with the descriptive statements. Visual attention allocation was also higher for labels that included the statements, suggesting more cognitive effort is being used to decipher the label and form opinions leading toward a purchase decision. The results of this study can be used for future development of the clean label trend, as well as provide an avenue for food labeling research. Overall, the findings of this study contribute to ongoing research to develop a definition for clean label foods, as well as determining how consumers perceive and interact with these labels.