SEMINAR: Consumer choices in fast-food chain restaurants: the role of information
|Consumer choices in fast-food chain restaurants: the role of information : Assistant Professor James Fogarty, School of Agricultural & Resource Economics
The research question for this study was to determine the impact of providing menu item energy content information at the point of sale on consumer choices at Australian fast-food chain restaurants. To answer the research question data was collected via an on-line survey. Specifically, a sample of 1,600 members of the Australian adult population made menu selections from representative fast-food restaurant menus under different information conditions.
To analyse the data a linear mixed model was estimated. The analysis found that providing information on the energy content of menu items at the point of sale results in consumers selecting menu items that, on average, have a lower energy content. In males the effect is statistically significant, but in females the effect is not. Compared to the baseline of no information on energy content, when energy content information was displayed using an absolute KJ format, the average energy content of menu selections fell by 191KJ for males and 63KJ for females. When energy content information was displayed using a %RDI format, the average energy content of menu selections fell by 233KJ for males and 5KJ for females.
Mandating the provision of energy content information at the point of sale in fast-food chain restaurants in Australia would impose costs on business, but would also provide additional information to consumers that is valuable; and would also, potentially, generate a reduction in health system expenditure. Some exploratory analysis on costs and benefits finds that the benefits to consumers from more information, and the potential savings in terms of health system expenditures, are likely to be greater than the cost on business of a regulation mandating the provision of energy content information at the point of sale.
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