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Posted on April 7th, 2012, by

Nowadays we can speak about such a tendency that when visiting a supermarket people pay more and more attention to reading labels on the products, because they want to know what they are buying and make the right decision in the huge choice of goods. Thus, when selecting a product the label on packaging is called to help us, telling everything about the interested product, we just have to be able to “read” the content. However, on the other hand people already got used to the fact that the marking is not so simple as it might seem at first glance. The information on labels can not only inform  about a product, but also give customers misleading, that is now widely used by marketers.  Thus customers need to really know and understand the labels of goods, that is, be able to “read” in the supermarket.

For a product label is essential part, as a passport for a person, as the information presented on it helps to understand what we’re going to get.  The main objective of the label is to tell about the product and bring attention of buyers to it, so it is an integral part of the commercial and advertising of the product. Designers and advertisers use labels not to inform about the properties of the goods, but more to attract and catch buyer’s attention, make him buy it. So the labels very often have inaccurate or ambiguous meaning, with the emphasis on psychological characteristics of consumers, their desires. As modern research shows, that consumer behavior can be easily manipulated, and during supermarket shopping consumers are manipulated to buy certain things. A well known book by Packard V. The hidden persuades first opened people’s eyes to what is going on in the supermarkets. But still practically all consumers get under the influence of that manipulation when reading about the products in the supermarkets.

It was interesting to see the Mr.Pollan view in Big Organic: Supermarket Pastoral in his book, where he writes about modern trends in the agriculture and food industry. So he writes: shopping at Whole Foods is a literary experience, meaning that packaging and labels that he reads in the supermarket are made so to create an illusion of something. He gives examples of “certified organic” or “humanely raised” or “free range.” (Pollan, 2006, p.135)

All that phrases on packaging have no sense and meaning at all, but was made to persuade consumers to buy products that are organic and natural, just because of modern fashion trend for organics food. Pollan gives very truthful examples of misreading and manipulating phrases that all of us see every day in the supermarket, that have not truthful meaning, but complex aesthetic, emotional, and even political dimentions.  (Pollan, 2006, p.135)

In many countries there are laws that govern the need for and format of posting information about the product on the labels, so that consumers can read the correct information about any product. These laws are created primarily in the interests of consumers, and give every citizen (the buyer) the right to be informed about the product. In spite of this, shoppers in supermarkets can not always get the information they are interested in, and often can not properly assess the written information, as producers of goods are trying in every possible way to interpret the label, use imprecise and double-meaning words and phrases. As Dudek N. writes in his article about metaphors, clichés and misunderstandings that are used in modern restaurants and menus, all the same can be said about labels and tickets of the products sold in the supermarket. (Dudek, 2006, p.52)

I must say that there is a difference between the information on nutritional value of products, and inscriptions such as “nutritional”, “fitness Product” or “diet product” does not mean the exact properties or qualities of products. On the one hand, producers can not withhold such information about the nutritional value to food, which is absolutely untrue, as it is forbidden by the law. On the other hand, the present laws practically do not give precise definitions as to what quantity of nutrients must contain the product so that manufacturers could label it with some marks, such as “low fat” or diet product. That is why manufactures very often manipulate consumers, forcing them to believe in the special qualities of the product and pushing  them to buy goods. In this case, consumers should just be well informed about the actual properties of the goods, such information about tricks of producers you can read in the newspapers, magazines or books. It is best to be informed, and do not believe in advertising slogans and persuasion of marketers, and in cases of serious irregularities in the product information all consumers can contact the Consumer Protection or the court.


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