Nutrition and health claims are seen as a way of promoting healthy aspects of food. However, the results of previous studies have been contradictory regarding the effect of these claims on purchase. This study aims to achieve a better understanding of how the consumer characteristics ‘nutrition knowledge’ and ‘health motivation’ influence the purchase of products with nutrition and health claims and what role gaze behavior plays. We included gaze behavior in our analysis, as visual attention on the claims is a precondition to its influence on the purchase decision. In a close-to-realistic shopping situation, consumers could choose from three-dimensional orange juice packages labeled with nutrition, health, and taste claims. In total, the sample consisted of 156 consumers. The data were analyzed with a structural equation model (SEM), linking the purchase decision for products with claims to gaze data recorded with a mobile eye tracker and consumer and product-related variables collected via the questionnaire. Results showed that the variables in the SEM explained 31% (8%) of the variance observed in the purchase of products with a nutrition (health) claim. The longer a consumer looked at a specific claim, the more likely the consumer would purchase the respective product. The lower the price and the higher the perceived healthiness and tastiness of the product further heightened its likelihood of being purchased. Interestingly, consumers with higher nutrition knowledge and/or higher health motivation looked longer at the nutrition and health claims; however, these consumer characteristics did not show an effect on the purchase decision. Implications for policy makers and marketers are given.
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