To get people to eat insect-based food, it should be promoted as pleasurable rather than healthy or environmentally-friendly, new research on marketing taboo or unappealing foods has shown.
According to findings published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, promoting insects as tasty or even as a luxurious and exotic delicacy, could help change attitudes from yuck to yum, and achieve more sustainable food production and healthier diets.
Insects are a more sustainable source of animal protein than livestock, but to many people, they are an unappealing option.
Despite the benefits to health and the environment that may accrue from eating bugs, many people are wary or disgusted at the thought of eating them as food.
Researchers from Germany set out to investigate the factors that influence people’s attitudes towards insect-based food.
Study participants viewed an advertisement for a company offering insect-based food. Some of the advertisements highlighted the environmental or health benefits of the food, while others highlighted pleasurable aspects, such as its taste.
After viewing the advertisement, the participants were offered a mealworm chocolate truffle. Before taking a bite, they completed a questionnaire on their expectations for the truffle and whether they were willing to try it. Those who took a bite rated its taste.
The research team found that advertisements promoting the health and environmental benefits of eating insects were significantly less effective than those promoting the pleasurable aspects of food.
On the other hand, claims of quality, pleasurable taste and luxury enhanced the participants’ expectations of the truffle and made them more likely to try it. These participants also rated the taste of the truffles more highly.
The researchers noted that people’s aversion to eating insects is emotional rather than rational, so influencing their emotions works better to change their attitudes towards insects as food, than rational appeals.
The findings suggest portraying insect-based food as delicious, trendy or even luxurious to effectively change people’s eating habits to make them more inclined towards eating bugs. - Science Daily