Although consumer perception of the health claims and nutrition information has been studied widely there is relatively little understanding about the motivational factors underpinning claim perception. The objective of this study is to investigate how levels of perceived relevance influence consumers’ responses to health claims that either promise to reduce a targeted disease risk or improve well-being in comparison to other types of health-related messages, and how attitudes towards nutritionally healthy eating, functional food and previous experience relating to products with health claims affect the consumers’ perceptions of nutrition and health claims. The data (N = 2385) were collected by paper and pencil surveys in Finland, the UK, Germany and Italy on a target group of consumers over 35 year old, solely or jointly responsible for the family’s food shopping. The results showed that relevance has a strong influence on perceptions of personal benefit and willingness to buy products with health claims. However the impact of relevance is much stronger when the health risks are relevant to self than when it is relevant to those close to oneself, especially when the claim promises a targeted risk reduction with detailed information about function and health outcome. Previous experience with products with health claims and interest in nutritionally healthy eating promoted the utility of all claims, regardless of whether they were health or nutrition claims. However, to be influenced by health claims consumers also need to have a positive attitude towards functional food products.