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Testing an Information Intervention: Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Jamie Oliver on Fizzy Drinks Demand

Gibson, John and Tucker, Steven and Boe-Gibson, Geua (2019): Testing an Information Intervention: Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Jamie Oliver on Fizzy Drinks Demand.

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Abstract

We conducted a salient purchasing experiment to test if an information intervention alters fizzy drinks demand. Subjects in our experiment initially made five rounds of purchases, for 14 items (energy drinks, colas, and lemonades) selected from a stratified sample of retailers. Subjects faced seven pricing environments, reflecting baseline prices, two ad valorem taxes, two specific taxes, and ad valorem and specific price cuts to reflect retailer discounting. Subjects then watched a video presentation by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, which highlighted adverse health effects of sugary drinks. The five rounds of choices were then repeated, to generate within-subject before and after demands that show an overall 25% reduction in purchases due to the information intervention. Demand for one sugar-free option, Diet Coke, rose 36% after the intervention. The impacts under baseline prices were little different to those seen in conjunction with tax-induced price rises. Effects of the information intervention were larger for females, for the young, for the less educated, for those usually spending more on soft drinks, and for those who usually ignore sugar content when making purchases.

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