Message claims influence individuals’ attitudes and evaluations towards a product (Souiden, Abdelaziz, & Fauconnier, 2013). The claim format and the content of a message contribute to how they elaborate the information presented on a product (Wansink, Sonka, & Hasler, 2004). SPF sunscreen is a purchasing prevention product, which falls into the category of cosmetics (European Commission, 2009). Due to the overabundance of SPF sunscreens in retail and the highly competitive environment, product claims have become for marketers the essential tool to increase sales (Mayhew et al., 2015). However, product claims are not always beneficial to the product (Fenko et al.
, 2016). Research shows that the presence of product claims on food packaging leads to different attitudes, depending on whether the claim is health-related or marketing-oriented. On one hand, health claims that address the positive effects of the product on a person’s health generate more positive thoughts (Mayhew et al., 2015).
Positive thoughts result in higher levels of persuasion, therefore, more positive attitudes towards the product (Wansink et al., 2004). On the other hand, marketing claims promoting the characteristics of the product which are not health-related, usually generate more negative thoughts (i.e., counter-arguments) and therefore negative attitudes towards the product (Fenko et al., 2016).
A plausible explanation for this phenomenon lies in the PKM, which suggests that a person’s persuasion knowledge develops simultaneously with the persuasion experience (Friestad & Wright, 1994). Consumers are usually more aware of the persuasive intent which lies behind marketing claims, compared to health claims. This is because health claims are based upon scientific guidelines provided by certified organizations (e.
g., European Commission), whereas marketing claims are often introduced by marketers to emphasize the benefits of the product usage and increase sales (Fenko et al., 2016).