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Why consumers under-use food quantity indicators

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Recent UK research suggests that the majority of consumers fail to utilize unit prices or quantity indications when purchasing pre-packaged foodstuffs. This failure reduces their ability to identify optimal purchases and to protect themselves against oversized packaging, product downsizing and quantity surcharges. Previous work on quantity has been non-UK based (e.g. Wansink 1996), suffered from methodological flaws and/ or lacked specific focus on quantity.This research investigates why quantity indications are not utilized and adopts a more comprehensive multi-method approach using accompanied shopping interviews, simulated tasks (n = 230) and an in-store questionnaire (n = 1000). The results show consumers are: generally unaware of quantity indicators; confused because they are overloaded with product information; unable to process the volume and diversity of the quantity information generated by large numbers of products and brands; unwilling to make the effort to make comparisons; do not understand different measurement systems, quantity terms and expressions; do not care about small quantity differences; use package size or tactile weight instead; believe that the law protects them sufficiently; do not have time to make comparisons; are unable to locate and assimilate unclear quantity information. The results raise important consumer education issues and implications for retailers relating to clearer and more consistent quantity indicators.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-04-01

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