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Reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is a public health priority, yet finding an effective and acceptable policy intervention is challenging. One strategy is to use proportional pricing (a consistent price per fluid ounce) instead of the typical value-priced approach where large beverages offer better value. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate whether proportional pricing affects the purchasing of fountain beverages at a university cinema concession stand.
Four price strategies for beverages were evaluated over ten weekends of film screenings. We manipulated two factors: the price structure (value pricing v. proportional pricing) and the provision of information about the price per fluid ounce (labels v. no labels). The key outcomes were the number and size of beverages purchased. We analysed data using regression analyses, with standard errors clustered by film and controlling for the day and time of purchase.
A university cinema concession stand in Minnesota, USA, in spring 2015.
Over the study period (360 beverages purchased) there were no significant effects of the proportional pricing treatment. Pairing a label with the standard value pricing increased the likelihood of purchasing large drinks but the label did not affect purchasing when paired with proportional pricing.
Proportional prices did not significantly affect the size of beverages purchased by students at a university cinema, but adding a price-per-ounce label increased large drink purchases when drinks were value-priced. More work is needed to address whether pricing and labelling strategies might promote healthier beverage purchases.
Many jurisdictions in the USA and globally are considering raising the prices of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) through taxes as a strategy to reduce their consumption. The objective of the present study was to identify whether the rationale provided for an SSB price increase affects young adults’ behavioural intentions and attitudes towards SSB.
Participants were randomly assigned to receive one of eight SSB price increase rationales. Intentions to purchase SSB and attitudes about the product and policy were measured.
A forty-six-item cross-sectional Internet survey.
Undergraduate students (n 494) at a large US Midwestern university.
Rationale type was significantly associated with differences in participants’ purchasing intentions for the full sample (F7,485=2·53, P=0·014). Presenting the rationale for an SSB price increase as a user fee, an effort to reduce obesity, a strategy to offset health-care costs or to protect children led to lower SSB purchasing intentions compared with a message with no rationale. Rationale type was also significantly associated with differences in perceptions of soda companies (F7,485=2·10, P=0·043); among low consumers of SSB, messages describing the price increase as a user fee or tax led to more negative perceptions of soda companies.
The rationale attached to an SSB price increase could influence consumers. However, these message effects may depend on individuals’ level of SSB consumption.
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