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Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 698–719 | Cite as

It’s only natural: the mediating impact of consumers’ attribute inferences on the relationships between product claims, perceived product healthfulness, and purchase intentions

  • Christopher Berry
  • Scot Burton
  • Elizabeth Howlett
Original Empirical Research

Abstract

Foods positioned as natural, all-natural, and 100% natural can be found across a wide variety of product categories. However, the FDA has not provided a formal definition of the term “natural,” and this has resulted in a surge in class action lawsuits filed against manufacturers due to the potentially misleading use of natural claims. Activation theory and the inferential processing literature serve as the conceptual foundation for three studies that examine the effects of natural claims on consumers’ attribute inferences and product evaluations. Results suggest that natural claims affect consumers’ attribute inferences, which in turn influence product evaluations. Furthermore, findings show that the provision of objective information regarding the ambiguity of natural claims moderates the effects of these claims on consumers’ attribute inferences and product evaluations. The implications for marketing management, those involved in litigation driven by potentially deceptive natural claims, and the policy community are discussed.

Keywords

Product labeling Natural claims Retail food choices False and misleading inferences Health halos Activation theory 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the Editor-in-Chief, the Area Editor, and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions.

Supplementary material

11747_2016_511_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.9 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1980 kb)

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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Berry
    • 1
  • Scot Burton
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Howlett
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Marketing, College of BusinessColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marketing, Sam M. Walton College of BusinessUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Marketing and International Business, Carson College of BusinessWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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