You pass by your local bakery early in the morning and suddenly the smell of the bread makes you want to eat it. It’s an unconscious reaction, even though you’re on a diet.
What’s worse is that you can easily adapt to the size of the new hamburger, which keeps getting bigger and bigger every day. In the meantime, you end up overconsuming food, which leads to obesity.
Why are we so worried about obesity and yet we overconsume?
Food is the most primal need, sensitive to all five senses
What are some of the most important psychological factors when it comes to food purchases?
A common experience when ordering food in a restaurant is the difference between having a picture of the product on the menu or in the food.
The smell of something delicious makes us want to buy it more. Of all the products we buy and use on a daily basis, food is one of the most primitive human needs that is sensitive to our five senses.
According to the American Vision Institute, vision accounts for 60-92 percent of potential judgments consumers make in a short amount of time.
This means that we rely heavily on visual information when evaluating food. So when you see a better-looking photo of a food item, you’re more likely to get more information from it and find it more appetizing.
A picture of a steaming menu or a fish that looks like it’s about to drip with water makes our mouths water even more, which is why grocery stores are always spraying steam in the produce section. Powerful visuals, especially stereotypes, can directly influence our decision to buy.
If you see blue ramen noodles, you’re bound to lose your appetite!
Along with sight, smell is one of our most primitive senses.
As Professor Rachel Herz points out, “Whereas sight and sound evoke rational thought, smell is directly linked to emotions such as liking and disliking.” Not only that, but smell is deeply and directly linked to our memories, so a good smell can easily trigger those memories and make us more likely to buy. In his novel In Search of Lost Time, the iconic French novelist Marcel Proust describes how the sight of a slice of madeleine bread instantly brought him back to his childhood.
The aroma of the bakery makes it easy to recall the memory of the bread and stimulates the purchase.
Nescafe has designed their products to hit your nose as hard as possible when you open the bottle. Hearing also directly influences purchase behavior, although not as much as sight or smell.
Kellogg’s designed the crunching sound of their cereal to be as appetizing as possible. Of course, the sense of taste inherently provides important information for evaluating food. As such, food can easily and powerfully stimulate us through our five senses.
Why are big burgers evolving?
Over time, food companies have made their food-related products more and more visually and gustatory stimulating. It’s part of their marketing strategy to maximize profits by selling more and bigger portions.
So why are they pushing for bigger, more stimulating, and larger products?
In the past, consumers’ appetite for food was based on basic physiological needs, i.e., they felt that it was best if it was large enough to fill them up, or as sweet as possible, but as we became wealthier, we prioritized quality over quantity.
In particular, we have come to prefer foods that satisfy the five senses of taste and smell before quantitative eating.
For example, black Shin Ramyun or Haru Vegetable Purple showed that the previously taboo colors of black and purple can actually stimulate a sense of novelty. In addition, the taste cells of consumers who have been addicted to salty, spicy, sweet, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine cigarettes have become much duller than before.
As a result, they crave stronger and more stimulating flavors than ever before, and recipes are constantly changing to more caloric ones.
There are also studies that show that consumers are more likely to buy a larger serving of the same product because they think it’s cheaper, but in fact, they tend to use more of it.
This is because they perceive that a higher volume of a product is relatively cheaper, so they buy the largest volume possible. The problem is that more capacity means more usage.
The threshold for consumption is higher than it used to be, so the actual amount consumed increases dramatically.
In the case of snack foods, hypermarkets limit consumers’ choices by using sales strategies such as bundling, even if the discount rate is relatively high.
As a result, consumers end up buying more than they need due to discounted prices and bundled sales, resulting in a higher total purchase price. The sale of large quantities or bundles of small quantities also encourages overconsumption by discouraging buyers from purchasing the right amount or buying in batches.
In recent years, the difference between the price of individual packages and bundled packages has been very small, amplifying consumer dissatisfaction. In some cases, refillable detergents are sold at a higher price than the original product.
Franchise hamburger companies are gradually increasing the size of their hamburgers.
By increasing the volume of the product, the company can avoid the price increase felt by the consumer.
If a product that costs 100 won for 100 ml is increased to 130 ml and costs 130 won, consumers are likely to perceive that the price has not increased. It’s a simple comparison.
However, capacity and price can be subject to the law of diminishing returns, which is ultimately beneficial for companies because it allows them to realize a lower cost of production than the selling price.
On the consumer side, once you’ve eaten a large burger, you naturally adjust to the size and don’t feel like it’s as big. This is the “anchoring effect” or “reference point effect” of size.
Immediately after purchasing a larger serving, the consumer removes the previous smaller serving as a point of comparison.
They think of the current capacity as 100%, which is 150% or 200% more than they had before, but they don’t recognize the increase, so they end up using more.
Big burgers and eating shows
Recently, an online community message board posted a list of five outrageous menus titled “The Ultimate in Big Food”.
A 30-centimeter-diameter hamburger, a 1.4-liter bowl of soup, a chicken fried steak weighing 1.8 kilograms, a 20-centimeter-high burger, and 20 slices of 16-inch pizza. Of course, many people have tried to eat it in the time limit, but no one has succeeded yet.
pizza chain has launched a Super King size pizza, which is one pizza larger than two regular L-size pizzas. The size of the pizza is 47 centimeters. It is said that just one slice can fill you up enough to eat two to three slices of regular pizza.
The launch of the big burger is not just for fun, but also reflects the consumer sentiment toward food.
According to a recent study by Dr. Derek Rucker of Northwestern University in the United States, the preference for “big” food is greater among marginalized groups.
This means that consumers with lower socio-economic status are more likely to seek satisfaction from larger portions.
When participants were asked to infer the socio-economic status of other consumers based on their size choices for food items such as pizza and coffee, they determined that the larger the size, the higher the socio-economic status of the consumer.
In other words, the more deprived a person is, the greater their need for satisfaction, and the more they want the instant catharsis of a larger food item to relieve some of the stress of the mismatch between their present and their unattainable ideal.
This preference for larger portions is rapidly creeping into society. Recently, New York City’s soda ban, which would have banned the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces, was struck down in court.
When it comes to internet neologisms, “mukbang” is all the rage. Short for “food broadcast,” it’s a program that shows videos of people eating food.
If the viewer’s appetite is whetted by eating the food in a delicious and enjoyable way, he or she will be awarded the title of “Mukbang Master.
Eating is the epitome of B-list culture, where gluttony is praised, and people brag about how many bowls they’ve eaten. In a society where dieting for a slimmer body forces people to suppress their instincts, ‘Mukbang’ is a kind of liberation as far as appetite is concerned.
It’s a social expression of obesity and dieting. Delicious food is constantly being developed, and the food craze never ends.
We can choose food anytime and anywhere, but not many people can eat as much as they want.
This is because of the threat of obesity, and people who are trying to lose weight want to eat whatever they want.
They don”t care if it”s instant or junk food that”s not good for you, they want to enjoy it and not feel guilty about it.
Watching these food shows is vicariously satisfying and cathartic. Of course, the average viewer is also intrigued by the unconventional food on the show and finds it cathartic to see them eat deliciously.
Small Luxury Spending
In the current recession, small luxury is becoming a popular trend.
This is the practice of consuming products that can be used as accessories for luxury brands instead of expensive luxury bags or clothing, with relatively high satisfaction compared to the price.
In other words, it is a consumer psychology phenomenon that tries to achieve the same satisfaction as expensive luxury goods by purchasing accessories of luxury brands.
A typical example is the ‘lipstick effect’, a psychological phenomenon that tries to enjoy the luxury of cheap lipstick when the economy is difficult, which extends to various beauty products.
What is different from the past is that this trend of value consumption is rapidly expanding into the food sector, breaking away from the focus on luxury goods. In particular, the type of small luxury related to food is called ‘taste luxury’.
They can’t afford the luxury exotic cars driven by the top 1%, and they can’t spend money on expensive luxury goods, but they have a desire to consume at the same level as the top class when it comes to food.
One of the first things you’ll notice is the growing demand for fresh produce on online shopping malls, driven by the rise of single-person households and dual-income families.
These fresh products are part of the small luxury trend, which is the reduction in size and increase in quality.
Major shopping malls have already responded to this consumer trend by significantly strengthening their ‘eco-friendly food’ departments and focusing on directly targeting this consumer base.
This year, fresh food accounted for 31.8 percent of E-mall’s sales by product category, surpassing processed food (30.8 percent) for the first time.
In addition, the use of family restaurants with a price tag of more than 40,000 won per person has been steadily increasing.
Not long ago, family restaurants were usually reserved for big occasions, such as parents’ or family birthdays, but in recent years, they have become popular among young people who want to get together with friends.
This craze has also started to spread to the food industry.
An example is the luxury change in the ramen industry, which has been considered a representative common food.
Obesity is a psychological addiction to food
When companies use celebrities as role models for weight loss, dieters subconsciously assume that it will help them lose weight.
World-renowned top models Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington, and Elle Macpherson have opened a series of fashionable new restaurants, Fashion Café, based in New York and London.
Customers couldn’t feel appetite in the restaurant because the owners, all famous models, were skinny, so even if they were hungry, they didn’t eat much.
This is because the combination of different sensory elements – the visual information of the skinny models and the gustatory information of the restaurant’s food – created a new and more powerful “synesthesia” stimulus that negatively stimulated consumers’ emotions.
In order to be successful, you need to think about dieting from a psychological perspective rather than the usual starvation diets.
A common problem with crash dieting is that it releases stress hormones, which cause the body to store more energy in the form of fat than it would otherwise, and increases your appetite to eat whatever comes your way.
This is why most people gain weight after quitting smoking, because they are forced to eat directly instead of using nicotine to compensate for the psychological hunger. In humans, the appetite control center is located in the hypothalamus, a key nerve center of the emotional system, where eating sends satiety signals to the brain.
A recent study found that apolipoproteins, a key appetite suppressant, are regulated in this center by the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin. In experiments, obese rats ate less food and lost weight and abdominal circumference, improving their obesity.
However, if the hypothalamus could regulate appetite using only satiety signals, it would be very unlikely to lead to binge eating and obesity.
However, the reason why binge eating and obesity are so difficult to get rid of is that it is a psychological addiction to food.
When it comes to food, we usually get a signal from our psychological reward system that tells us we’re full in addition to the physical feeling of being full.
It’s only when we get positive physical and psychological cues after eating, such as “I’m full” and “I had a great meeting today,” that the craving switch is turned off.
If psychological hunger persists despite physical satiety, you’re more likely to eat more to compensate for the feeling of emptiness, and eventually become obese.
Often, people try to relieve stress through food, such as excessive workloads or preparing for a promotion exam. Obesity, a modern epidemic, is a food addiction to psychological hunger.