The 101 calorie mini pack: the interaction between numerical and verbal marketing cues


Research has yet to adequately explore how numerical (e.g., calorie information) and verbal (e.g., size descriptors) food portion cues on product packaging interact to influence consumer evaluations. Thus, this research examines such cues in three studies. Study 1 showed that distinctive numerical cues (99 or 101 rather than 100) were more positively evaluated. Study 2 examined interactions between numerical and verbal cues (bite vs. king size) to show that matching magnitude cues (100 with bite size or 101 with king size) led to higher product evaluations. Study 3 examined the moderating effect of health interest and revealed that inclusion of a verbal cue (vs. none) only mattered when presented in conjunction with a non-distinctive numeric cue (100 calorie) for high health interest consumers. These findings provide insight for marketers and policy makers because, currently, caloric amounts above 50 calories are required to be rounded to the nearest 10 caloric unit (e.g., 100 calorie), but allowing caloric amounts to be exact (99 or 101 calorie) may influence healthier consumption outcomes.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. 1.

    Inclusion of all eliminated participants in one-way ANOVA analyses—overall attitude: F(2, 131) = 2.861, p = .061; purchase intentions: F(2, 131) = 5.244, p = .006. Eliminated participants were evenly distributed across the experimental conditions.

  2. 2.

    Inclusion of all eliminated participants in ANOVA analysis—purchase intentions: F(1, 98) = 5.068, p = .027. Eliminated participants were evenly distributed across the experimental conditions.

  3. 3.

    Inclusion of all eliminated participants in ANOVA analysis—flavorful: F(1, 148) = 4.273, p = .040. Eliminated participants were evenly distributed across the experimental conditions.


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The first and second authors contributed equally to this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth A. Minton.

Appendix 1 Calorie pack examples

Appendix 1 Calorie pack examples





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Minton, E.A., Liu, R.L. & Lee, C.T. The 101 calorie mini pack: the interaction between numerical and verbal marketing cues. Mark Lett 29, 225–239 (2018).

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  • Marketing cues
  • Information leakage
  • Markedness
  • Nutrition labels