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Children Are Price Sensitive Too: Using Coupons to Increase Children’s Consumption of Healthy Food


Prior research in consumer behavior has invested tremendous effort in isolating and testing the negative impact of marketing, such as fast-food advertisements, on childhood obesity. This research aims to address the grave challenge of childhood obesity from a different angle: instead of banning or limiting marketing of unhealthy options, we leverage marketing tools to encourage consumption of healthy options among children. We partnered with UNICEF to launch three field experiments at three elementary schools in Panamá to examine the effectiveness of price-promotion interventions (i.e., coupons to be redeemed at kiosks in the schools) in boosting children’s consumption of healthy food. Furthermore, we varied the complexity of coupon messages and found a divergent impact of economic incentives on children’s redemption rates based on (1) their age (i.e., developmental level) and (2) second (repeated) exposure to the coupons. This research provides novel insights into the impact of economic incentives on children’s consumption and contributes to the bubbling research on children’s health behaviors and motivation, cognitive developmental models, and the positive and negative impact of marketing.


Working Paper


Michal Maimaran, Szu-chi Huang

Date Published



Maimaran, Michal, and Szu-chi Huang. 2018. Children Are Price Sensitive Too: Using Coupons to Increase Children’s Consumption of Healthy Food.


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