Green or Healthy…?

… or how to use language to target distinct messages differently?

img_6493While in Spain recently, I came across this interesting example combining two different messages, (possibly) for two different audiences – in one “channel” (in this case the packaging): Take a look at the picture on the right – it’s taken from a sandwich wrapper for a ham sandwich. Therefore, the text talks about ham, however, depending on if you read the text in Spanish or in English you get a very different message:

Both Spanish texts talk about ecological effects of eating ham: the left one talks about the “eco-sustainable” processes used to make the ham, while the one on the right talks about that by eating the ham you contribute to the conservation of Mediterranean forests. Both would appear (at least) a little bit of greenwashing for the product, which, of course is a frequently used marketing technique.

The English text, as you can see, is however not at all about anything ecological – it is touting the apparent health benefits of eating ham. Of course, I’m not a nutritionist, though a quick search seemed to suggest that mainly ham producers seem to “know” about these health benefits. Given that ham is also pretty fat, I do however assume, that it may not be an altogether good idea to eat too much of it – and that therefore the message really is a bit more “health”-washing than anything else.But either way, it’s an interesting point to see the that two quite distinct messages are being used in Spanish or English respectively in this case.
My first idea might be that in a (fairly) collectivist society like Spain (IDV Score of 51) green appeals might be seen as more attractive as they are benefiting the group – rather than the individual. The links between green consumption and collectivism has previously been discussed in the literature, for example, in this paper by Kim & Choi (2005).

Conversely English speakers are more likely from countries which are more individualistic (For example: UK: 89, Australia: 90 and the highest score: USA: 91), and therefore maybe more likely to respond positively to health claims – which, at least conceptually, are ultimately beneficial mostly to the individual concerned. I couldn’t find any studies linking health claims to individualism, but I guess it would be interesting to find out if there is a link.
Equally, it might be interesting to see if the marketers of this ham are targeting their message correctly: i.e. would health claims really be more attractive than green appeals in a head-to-head comparison in different cultural contexts? Maybe food for some thought (and a future paper) here!

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