How Common or Scientific Name Works? The Influence of Food Type and Regulatory Focus on the Choice of Ingredient Name: An Abstract

  • Dickson TokEmail author
  • Chun-Tuan Chang
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science book series (DMSPAMS)


Consumers rely on nutrition ingredient names in their food evaluations. Food companies could announce an ingredient name by using its common name focusing on the effects of a food component familiar to consumers (i.e., the name of the compound) or its specific and academia-based name (i.e., scientific name). Ares et al. (2009) indicated that displaying ingredient name affected consumer’s food evaluation. Drawing from construal level theory (Trope et al. 2007), we propose that consumers will look for advertising cues, which are congruent with high or low construal level that will facilitate or eliminate the effectiveness of ingredient name. Two moderators are proposed: food types (vice vs. virtue) and regulatory foci (promotion vs. prevention).

Two experiments show that a common name works better than a scientific name when vice food is promoted with promotion focus. On the other hand, a scientific name is more persuasive when virtue food is presented with prevention focus. The choice of ingredient name does not matter when vice food with prevention focus or food virtue with promotion focus is promoted. This research further demonstrates that perceived guilt and perceived efficacy respectively serve as the underlying mechanism for vice and virtue foods.

The current research makes theoretical contributions. First, it expands the knowledge and usage of food label in choosing the compatible ingredient name. The right combinations lead to higher product evaluations. Second, construal level theory explains how the different psychological construals will influence the effects of ingredient names. The results support the notion that a common (scientific) name is associated with high (low) construal level. Finally, the underlying mechanisms of perceived guilt and perceived efficacy enhance the knowledge and understanding behind the interaction effect.

The usage of presenting ingredient name offers important implications for both brand managers and marketers. First, marketers should consider how to eliminate the weakness of the product attributes and strengthen the benefits. Second, marketers should try to lower the perceived guilt of consumers vice consumption and increase the perceived efficacy of the virtue food by varying ingredient name and regulatory focus. Finally, vice and virtue are not always bipolar. Advertisers are able to frame their product in more vice or virtue by focusing hedonic attributes (e.g., taste or eating enjoyment) or utilitarian attributes (e.g., health goal or freshness).


Ingredient name Food type Regulatory focus Perceived guilt Perceived efficacy Construal level theory 

Copyright information

© The Academy of Marketing Science 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.National Sun Yat-Sen UniversityKaohsiungTaiwan

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