Good nutrition and regular exercise can help prevent disease, but substantial evidence shows that only a minority of consumers adequately engage in these and other recommended healthy behaviors. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, only 10 percent of Americans eat enough vegetables, 13 percent get enough fruit and 24 percent exercise adequately.
As a result, many healthy behaviors are what experts would consider “descriptively non-normative,” meaning most people don’t follow the recommendations by engaging in them.
In an effort to help marketers design messages to encourage healthy choices, new research from the University of Notre Dame introduces “uptrend messaging.” Rather than focusing on the fact that most consumers don’t follow the recommendations, it instead emphasizes the positive — that the percentage engaging in healthy behaviors is increasing.
“The Uptrend Effect: Encouraging Healthy Behaviors Through Greater Inferred Normativity” is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research from John Costello and Frank Germann, marketing professors in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, along with Aaron Garvey from the University of Kentucky and James Wilkie, a senior data scientist at Fetch Rewards Inc.