Model and measurement methodology for the analysis of consumer choice of foods products
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The consumer can be conceived as an imperfect problem solver. Consumer behavior with respect to food products is purposive, but the consumer is bounded by limitations of information, cognitive skills, memory and time. From this starting point, this paper develops a model of the process by which a consumer chooses a particular item (e.g. type of meat, vegetable, soft drink) from a class of food products. Different attributes of the product may playa role: hedonic, instrumental and symbolic attributes. In the model the overall preference for a product is the result of (i) the relevant perceptual dimensions and the beliefs of the consumer with respect to the performance of the product on the relevant dimensions (ii) the way the consumer trades off these product dimensions against each other (preference functions). The paper then discusses methods to measure the various variables of the model and to analyse the factors that determine preferences in a specific product class. Sensory profile construction, multidimensional scaling and factor analysis can be used to measure product perceptions. Also preference estimation methods and the data requirements for these techniques are discussed. A demonstration of the approach is provided for the choice of vegetables in The Netherlands. The paper ends with a brief discussion about the practical use of the insights obtained with this model and som~ speculation about research to make further progress in understandmg the factors determining consumer choice of food products.
- food products
- preference functions
- preference function