It may seem counter-intuitive to take health advice from a marketing professor, but when it comes to analyzing consumer data and its relationship to managing health issues such as diabetes, one University of Alberta researcher may have the right prescription.
In a paper recently published in the Journal of Marketing, Alberta School of Business professor Yu Ma uncovered information that has implications for health-care professionals, marketers and consumers alike. He says the data on consumer spending contain streams of information showing that decisions consumers make after being diagnosed with a major health issue like diabetes may seem sound on the outside, but actually expose them to greater health risks. And although education related to disease and proper nutrition should be a major driver of changing habits, Ma says it ranks far lower than another critical factor that could affect the waistline and the bottom line.
"The second-largest factor—and only slightly less influential than eating habits—is price. If the price is cheap, they're going to buy that (food item)," he said. "There are lots of things you can do just by changing the price of healthy food."
Changes: Hyperfocusing and the halo effect
Ma's data analysis shows that after a diagnosis of diabetes, patients tend to down the sugary beverages and foods that put them at risk for problems. Yet, while being hyper-vigilant with these choices, they tend to load up on other foods high in sodium or fat—two ingredients that could increase their chances of heart disease or high blood pressure. The key for people with diabetes, he says, is to consult a health-care professional about all foods that pose risks, both now and in the future.
Ma says the other critical factor is that people have a tendency to divide foods into two groups: healthy and unhealthy. In doing so, they tend to over-consume foods in the healthy column.
"What we found is that people paid too much attention to categorization, but they failed to monitor how much of those healthy alternatives they actually take in," said Ma. "It's what we call the health halo effect."
Food for thought: Is healthy eating too expensive?
Ma says it might not be a lack of wanting to eat healthier that drives people to unhealthy foods. Instead, the cost of making the switch may be the biggest hurdle. He says some choices come down to issues of education, such as switching from soft drinks to diet drinks or avoiding fruit juices. But he notes that purchasing and consuming more fruits and veggies or organic foods is not an option for consumers in all income brackets. Ma says that lack of access to better nutritional choices—which can also be reinforced by what is available from local stores—is difficult to overcome. He says people may think middle-class consumers can easily afford to switch, but the price difference from the healthy option to the "next best thing" can be significant once the whole food bill is totalled up.
"If you compare the price of healthy, whole-grain bread versus regular white bread, there's a cost increase between them," he said. "Sometimes, if you have a family to feed, it's hard to justify the price difference."
People first, profit second?
The goal of businesses is to maximize their profit by marketing and selling their product to target groups. However, Ma says, it comes down to an issue of needs and wants, especially when the need to change eating habits is necessary to stay alive. Health should not be at a premium, he says, and if marketers looked at a bigger, socially responsible picture, they may see the many benefits that would come from lowering their prices and making their products available to broader markets. He says companies may make less profit per customer, but making more money overall would go hand in hand with enhanced brand identity and recognition.
"They might have to sacrifice some short-term profit, but once they build up their brand name, and the goodwill in the consumer's mind, then it's a win-win for the customers and the company in the long run."
Jamie Hanlon | EurekAlert!
Antarctic Ice Sheet mass loss has increased
14.06.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden
WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...
Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
18.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
18.06.2018 | Process Engineering
18.06.2018 | Life Sciences