Monday, June 17, 2024

Subtle socials don’t sway healthy choices

Subtly placing healthy beverages in Instagram photos is not an effective way to influence Australians towards consuming nutritious drinks, according to new research.

The research from Flinders University looked at the impact of background images on consumer choices. Two behavioural experiments were conducted to investigate the potential benefits of deploying images, containing water or soft drinks, in non-drink related Instagram style advertising images.

“The experiments investigated whether subtly incorporating beverages into Instagram images could nudge choices from a vending machine-style visual display,” says lead researcher and PhD candidate Enola Kay in the College of Education, Psychology and Social work.

The researchers found that placing healthy drink images into the background of Instagram photos is not an effective way to nudge positive consumption behaviours.

However, when they made the drinks clearer and a little more obvious, they found that incorporating soft drink images into the background of Instagram images can nudge drink choices over food choices but incorporating healthy water images still had little effect.

“Food and drink choices are clearly habitual in nature, with participants in both experiments more likely to choose something they regularly consume and like,” says Ms Kay. “So nudging healthier drink and food choices may be made difficult by the need to override the habitual nature of dietary choices.

“Finding an effective means of encouraging healthier drink choices is important considering the adverse health consequences associated with consumption of sugary beverages,” she adds.

The researchers say reducing sugar intake should be a priority, with the World Health Organisation warning sugar-sweetened beverages are a primary source of excess sugar consumption globally, accounting for 50% of excess sugar intake in Australia.

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