Why consumers under-use food quantity indicators

Authors: Lennard, Dave; Mitchell, Vincent-Wayne; McGoldrick, Peter; Betts, Erica

Source: The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, Volume 11, Number 2, 1 April 2001 , pp. 177-199(23)

Publisher: Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group

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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.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09593960122918

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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