Effectiveness of Pricing Strategies on French Fries and Fruit Purchases among University Students: Results from an On-Campus Restaurant Experiment.
Sommaire de l'article
This study examined the effect of a 10 and 20% meal price increase when choosing French fries and a 10 and 20% meal price reduction when choosing fruit for dessert on university students' purchasing behaviour in an on-campus restaurant. The moderating effect of gender was also investigated. Secondly, this study aimed at gaining further insight into reasons why these price manipulations did or did not change students' purchasing behaviour.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
This two-phased mixed-methods study was conducted in a Belgian on-campus university restaurant with approximately 1200 to 1300 student visitors per day. In a first phase (French fries experiment), data were collected during a control week (no price manipulation) and two separate intervention weeks (10 and 20% meal price increase when students chose French fries). In a second phase (fruit experiment), following the same protocol but carried out a few weeks later, meal prices were reduced by 10 and 20% when students chose fruit for dessert. French fries and fruit sale counts relative to the total number of items sold were used as outcome measure. Short interviews were conducted in convenient subsamples of student customers to assess influences on food choice.
Increasing the meal price by 10 and 20% when choosing French fries was associated with respective 10.9 and 21.8% absolute reductions in French fries purchases, while reducing the meal price by 10 and 20% when choosing fruit for dessert was associated with absolute increases in fruit purchases of respectively 25.1 and 42.4% (all p<0.001). No moderating effect of gender was detected. Besides price, food/taste preference, eating habits, health, availability and accessibility, and body satisfaction influenced students' food choices, with taste being the most frequently mentioned factor.
Pricing may be a promising strategy to improve university students' eating behaviour. The likelihood of intervention success may increase when combining pricing strategies with offering healthy, tasty and meal matching starchy alternatives to French fries and offering a variety of fresh and appealing fruits.