Increasing demand for gluten-free foods is driving restaurants to add gluten-free menu items. However, it remains unclear how gluten-free labels affect food consumption and overall evaluations of a dining experience. We conducted two studies to fill this gap. Results from Study 1 suggest that unrestrained eaters (i.e., people with low levels of dietary restraint) expect to decrease their food consumption when a menu item bears a gluten-free cue, whereas restrained eaters (i.e., people with high levels of dietary restraint) do not show such an effect. This negative impact of a gluten-free cue on consumption among unrestrained eaters is mediated by expected taste. Results from Study 2 show that when a gluten-free purchase is incentivized with immediate incentives (i.e., price discounts), an increase in dietary restraint leads to a heightened salience of a health goal. Such an effect is attenuated with delayed incentives (i.e., redeemable points). The health goal salience mediates the impact of dietary restraint on anticipated satisfaction with a gluten-free dining experience incentivized with immediate rewards. This research contributes to the hospitality literature and the broader literature on food consumption. Moreover, our findings suggest that managers need to focus on clearly communicating the appealing taste of gluten-free foods and aim at activating a health goal among unrestrained eaters.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management