An expanded model of variety-seeking behaviour in food product choices

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Purpose ‐ The aim of this paper is to introduce and evaluate an expanded model approximating variety-seeking behaviour (VSB), which is defined as the phenomenon that consumers switch between brands because of the utility gained from the switch itself. Design/methodology/approach ‐ As a theoretical basis, two existing approaches, the switch (S) and the successive switch (SS) models, were examined and adjusted. The integration of both approaches led to the expanded "switch of brands" (SB) model. SB was tested empirically using panel data for a highly developed food market (the Austrian food market for three product categories, i.e. fruit juice, fruit yoghurt, and chocolate, with data for 2007 and 2008). Findings ‐ The integration of S and SS into the expanded SB model succeeded. Based on an annual comparison, the reliability of the SB model was tested. Since the results can be reproduced, it can be determined that the SB model is reliable. To test the explanatory power, a variable assessing brand loyalty ("brand purchase frequency") was introduced. Correlation analyses showed that the expanded variety-seeking model is more appropriate for approximating VSB than either S or SS. Research limitations/implications ‐ The SB model is still very basic, integrating only three variables. Other influencing variables have to be considered to further improve the significance of the SB model. Practical implications ‐ The expanded VSB model can be applied in all product categories and markets where panel data are available. It helps to analyse panel data in view of consumers' variety seeking and brand switching behavior. Originality/value ‐ The expanded variety-seeking model (SB) is easy to implement and gives valid information on VSB. It can be used for marketing decisions, especially in connection to brand management.

Keywords: Brand loyalty; Brand management; Consumer behaviour; Consumer choice; Food consumption

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 19, 2012

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