Effects of Double Language Labeling in the Context of FMCG-Products: A Mixed-Methods Approach: An Abstract
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To save costs or to target bilingual populations, internationally operating companies use double language labeling, which is the usage of a foreign language next to a domestic language to advertise, e.g., ingredients or use instructions. Companies catering on a national level might also benefit from this approach as their products can profit from a spillover effect of a positively perceived foreign language. Negative effects are also possible as a second language might make the product appear in a less positive light. As we concentrate on mainstream (# bilingual or bicultural) consumers, we assume that decoding information in a foreign language can be perceived as more challenging, resulting in negative effects. Our study seeks to clarify the impact of double language labeling of products on product perceptions and behavioral intentions in the context of food and beverages.
We applied a somewhat new approach by manipulating languages according to their comprehensibility. Languages can be classified as comprehensible and noncomprehensible languages, depending on people’s language proficiency. Cross-cultural communication research suggests that language choice can be connected to ad effectiveness through the ease of processing (Noriega and Blair 2008). Luna and Peracchio (1999) conclude by their research that it is recommendable to advertise consumers in their native language. We postulate that in case of a noncomprehensible language, the negative effects should be even more prominent as measured in the level of significance due to people not being able to understand the information. We conducted two between-subjects online experiments with one manipulated factor: language labeling (single: German; double and comprehensible: German + English; double and noncomprehensible: German + Spanish), using peanuts (orange juice) as test stimuli partially based on a company cooperation. A total of 88 (135) participants; Mage = 25.8, 55.7% female (Mage = 25.5, 56.0% female) completed the study. Both language labeling approaches harm the product, measured in perceptions and behavioral intentions. The effects are negative, however, they are statistically significant only with regard to the noncomprehensible language. A qualitative explanative approach was used to better understand language labeling. By varying product categories and interviewing 15 participants, we detected constructs related to culture, e.g., the context-specific quality signaling role of the German language. At this stage of research, we suggest that companies—those catering on a national level to mainstream consumers—should refrain from using an additional foreign language. Our findings need to be backed up with the help of our identified cultural constructs to understand their (possible) influence as moderating effects.