In DIET 100, “Hot Topics in Nutrition,” we read an article titled “Cueing Consumers to Buy.” The purpose of the article was to discuss what marketing techniques are put in place to persuade us to choose one grocery item over another. Feeling confident that I make my own food choices based on my nutritional knowledge of food along with food costs, I started to question those clever food marketers and their ability to influence my purchasing habits. Lets start with color. Take for example, the golden McDonald’s arch, the red and white tablecloth in the pizza parlor, or the color of your Coke can.  Colors such as red, oranges, violet, and deep greens stimulate hunger. If you notice, reds and yellows color the packages on the grocery shelves and in fast food restaurants.   Want to eat less at your holiday dinner? Use a blue tablecloth. The color blue suppresses appetite. In addition, we don’t eat a lot of blue foods, unless you are a bubble gum ice cream eater. What about wording on packages? Take the word “natural.” Consumers love to buy things that are “natural”.  However, “natural” has no meaning in law or in regulation.  It does not mean that the food is organic or that it has less calories, fat, or sugar than its unnatural counterpart. In addition, some “natural” foods do harm, such as the “natural” poisionous mushroom, which hopefully you can’t find in the store. Finally, cost. The sale price of an item might easily persuade someone to veer from their regular purchased food item without thinking twice.  I definitely tend to grab the “buy one, get one free” or sale item. However, without checking out the cost per unit, you might actually be missing out on the cheaper item. So if you are running to the grocery store to pick up a quick dinner item, think about your choices. As the checker rings you up, your selections might just be fueling the next marketing trend.

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.