Tasting in 2D: implications of food shape, visual cues, and oral haptic sensory inputs
Marketers often vary the shape and dimensions of food products. But could changing the shape (e.g., molding food into cubes or rectangular prisms) or altering the dimensions (e.g., cutting food into thicker or thinner pieces) have unintended consequences in terms of influencing consumers’ size perceptions, calorie estimates, or desired consumption volume of the food? Research related to visual inputs and the elongation bias would suggest that thicker and cube-shaped foods would be perceived as larger and higher in calories; however, research related to oral haptic sensory inputs (i.e., the way the food feels in the mouth) would suggest that thinner and rectangular shaped foods would be perceived as larger and higher in calories. We test these competing predictions in a series of three experimental studies and find support for the oral haptic-based hypothesis. Conceptual and managerial implications are discussed.
KeywordsOral haptics Food Visual Sensory marketing Size perception
This research benefitted from funding through an Association for Consumer Research–Transformative Consumer Research grant. The authors thank Aradhna Krishna for the helpful comments and suggestions.
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