Want to create a healthy food brand? It’s all in the name

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The interest in healthy food has grown rapidly among both consumers and food manufacturers in recent years. Previous research has shown that as well as nutritional information, non-sensory factors such as portion size and the colour and shape of its packaging can all shape the consumer’s perception of healthy food.

However, it is less clear how brand names might influence perceptions of healthy food. That’s despite this being one of the most important external cues for product evaluation and which has been shown to affect the perceived quality of both products and brands.

In what they believe to be the first study of its kind, researchers from Miyagi University in Japan and Oxford University in the UK investigated whether the sounds present in fictitious brand names would influence the expected healthiness of food.

The conclusion? “We demonstrate that phonemic sounds with higher (vs. lower) frequencies (e.g., /f, s, i, e/ vs. /b, d, g, o, u/) are perceived to be healthier,” ​they revealed.

Their research consisted of four studies. In one, participants were informed that they would be shown the fictitious brand names of certain food products, and that they had to rate them on the expected healthfulness, tastiness, calorie count, and the presence of three macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates).

This revealed that those fictitious food brand names containing higher frequency sounds were expected to be healthier when compared to those fictitious brand names containing lower frequency sounds.

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