Scientist Siril Alm studies children's preferences and attitudes towards food.
Scientist Siril Alm studies children's preferences and attitudes towards food. Photo: Audun Iversen/Nofima

Consumer research and industrial buying behaviour

Our marketing researchers investigate what is important for consumers and industrial buyers when buying Norwegian seafood in various markets.

Contact person
Portrettbilde av Pirjo Honkanen
Pirjo Honkanen

Research Director
Phone: +47 915 94 520
pirjo.honkanen@nofima.no

We offer:
  • Consumer research
  • Positioning strategies
  • Design of marketing channels
  • Knowledge about particular markets
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Quantitative research methods

Understanding what is important for consumers and professional buyers is crucial for producers of seafood products, not only in the development of new products, but also in communication with the customer. Several factors are important when decisions about purchases are made.

Attitudes, habit, impulses and behaviour

The properties of a product are certainly important when consumers purchase a food item, but lifestyle and values play an increasing role in buying decisions. Do they consider whether the food is healthy and environmentally friendly, or are they most concerned about appearance, convenience and price?

Our research has shown that choice of food can often be a matter of routine, and become a habit. It can be very difficult to change unhealthy eating habits. For this reason, we are looking at the role that habit plays in consumer choice and preferences, and how habits can be changed.

Children’s influence on food purchasing

Food preferences and eating habits that are formed during childhood form the basis for our diet as adults. Knowledge about the perceptions and attitudes of children is important to be able to develop communication strategies related to healthy eating habits based on their preferences. Authorities also use this knowledge when drawing up food and health policy.

Our consumer scientists possess expertise in the methods used to study children and reveal their preferences for, and attitudes towards, food. Including both children and their parents in the research allows us to discover how family members influence each other’s attitudes, preferences and food choice through communication and behaviour. We are also able to explain more deeply the factors that influence food purchasing in families.

Our research looking at the choices and preferences of children has shown that it is important to give children a choice between a limited set of meals. One experiment showed that the children liked a cod and salmon dinner better when they were allowed to choose between cod and salmon than was the case when they were given no choice.

The research has resulted in a list of recommendations about getting children to eat more healthy food. It is a good idea, for example, to serve different parts of a meal separately.

Supermarkets and other purchasers

Industrial buyers of seafood, such as importers, supermarket chains, wholesale retailers and catering companies, also have preferences, perceptions and attitudes related to production technology, suppliers, and products. These attitudes affect the marketing opportunities for Norwegian seafood suppliers.

We investigate what and who influences purchasers in their process in choosing a new product or a supplier. The relationship between the buyer and the seller is important in many markets, and an understanding of what is important for the customers in different cultures may be crucial to success.

New technologies

One aspect that we are studying is how modern technologies influence the way in which customers experience a product. Examples are genetic modification, organic production methods, and whether the seafood comes from a farm or has been caught wild. Customers must also take a standpoint on the ethical and environmental challenges of food production.

Customer attitudes in such matters are important for the communication strategy adopted by food producers, towards both consumers and purchasers.

When carrying out research in this field, we investigate also traditional marketing perspectives, such as participation, power and influence in the decision-making process, and how external stimuli affect this process and the result. The particular nature of the working conditions of companies in various markets is one aspect that plays a role here.

Sustainability

Another central research topic is the investigation of perceptions about environmental labelling and what its effects are. Examples are sustainability labelling and organic products. We examine different factors associated with such labelling, at both the supermarket level and the consumer level. This knowledge is important when developing possible strategies for the Norwegian food industry, to allow it to obtain competitive advantages and to protect it from competitors.

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