The study – published in the Journal of Consumer Research– reveals that consumers almost always choose to munch food products too rapidly, meaning they quickly grow tired of initially well-liked foods and snacks.
Led by Jeff Galak of Carnegie Mellon University, USA, the researchers reveal that overly zealous consumption of products – such as a favourite snack – initially can lead to decreases in enjoyment and consumption patterns of products more quickly than if they were initially consumed at slower rates.
"Consumers are naturally prone to consume products they enjoy too rapidly for their own good, growing tired of them more quickly than they would if they slowed down," write the researchers.
“The results also demonstrate that such overly-rapid consumption results from a failure to appreciate that longer breaks between consumption episodes slow satiation,” they say.
The news that slower consumption rates may increase consumer enjoyment in the long run comes shortly after a US based research group suggested industry should use subconscious markers as portion related ‘segmentation cues’ in some products (reported here).
That research, led by Professor Brian Wansink of Cornell University, examined whether segmentation cues in the form of edible markers could reduce the amount of crisps consumed.
"People generally eat what is put in front of them if it is palatable," explained Wansink.
"An increasing amount of research suggests that some people use visual indications such as a clean plate or bottom of a bowl to tell them when to stop eating."
As a result, the team suggested that subtle segmentation of products could help industry to promote better portion control and fight obesity due to overconsumption.
But now, the new research from Galak and his team seems to go a step further by suggesting that such slowed consumption could in-fact increase overall consumer enjoyment, meaning improved liking in the long term.
The authors asked consumers to eat a well-liked food such as chocolate or play an exciting video game either at their own pace or at longer intervals.
When consumers were given the ability to choose a rate of consumption and that decision was constrained to force them to consume slowly, they enjoyed the overall experience more than those who either chose their rate of consumption in an unconstrained manner or those whose rate of consumption was chosen for them, reveal the researchers.
The team reveals that because consumers choose to consume too quickly, they don't appreciate that spacing out consumption decreases satiation and thereby increases enjoyment.
Paradoxically, therefore we tend to make choices that will bring us less pleasure overall, say the researchers.
Source: Journal of Consumer Research
Published online ahead of print
"Slow Down! Insensitivity to Rate of Consumption Leads to Avoidable Satiation."
Authors: Jeff Galak, Justin Kruger, and George Loewenstein.