Background: Several studies have explored factors influencing consumer choice of foods and non-alcoholic beverages (hereafter, foods), and brand information has been shown to affect potential determinants of eating behaviour, such as consumer attitudes. However, experimental studies have yet to fully elucidate the impact of brand information (presence versus absence of brand imagery) on actual behaviour, in terms of acute food-related decision making. This study aimed to review recent developments and identify key methodological considerations and future directions for this field.
Methods: This was a systematic review of recent experimental studies in which actual foods were presented to participants, with brand information manipulated at the point of taking an acute outcome measure of preference, choice or intake. Three electronic databases were searched for relevant publications (Web of Science, PubMed and PsycINFO). In order to capture recent research developments, searches were limited to English language papers published in the last five years (2010–) and electronic searches were supplemented by a manual search of reference sections in eligible papers.
Results: Ten papers were eligible for inclusion in this review, reporting on eleven experiments. Overall, the results did not show conclusively whether or not brand information affects acute food-related decision making, although effects on food intake were more consistent than effects on preference and choice. Where an impact of brand information was found, it appeared to be moderated by individual differences, specifically weight status, gender and psychological profile (particularly restraint).
Conclusion: This study highlighted the small number of relevant recent studies on this topic, and the substantial heterogeneity in design that exists across this literature. There is a clear need for more high quality, methodologically consistent research of branding effects on immediate food-related decisions. Consistent outcome reporting (such as demarcation of reporting across pertinent participant sub-groups) should also be encouraged to enable accurate comparisons and allow reliable conclusions to be drawn.
Conflict of Interest Statement
The authors report no conflicts of interest.
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