Browsing by Subject "consumer research"

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  • Jouhikainen, Kaisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Objectives The term natural is highly ambiguous and there is no clear definition, what actually is natural food. Nowadays the term is widely used in the food industry, for example in product packaging and marketing. However, as there is no common understanding for the term or any regulations of its use, it could cause confusion amongst consumers. This research was set out to explore consumers’ perceptions of natural food. The main objective of this study was to form an understanding of the meanings consumers give to natural food and how they categorize foods as natural and unnatural. Methodology This research is qualitative in nature. To assess the research topic, ten thematic, semi-structured interviews were conducted with urban Finnish women aged 23-32 years. They were generally open to new foods, hence less neophobic. As part of the interviews a categorization task was presented, in which the participants were asked to categorize 30 different protein sources from natural to unnatural. The purpose of the categorization task was to assist in revealing how consumers categorize foods, or more precisely protein sources, as natural and unnatural. Key findings The main findings were that consumers categorize foods as natural based on three various aspects: 1) processing, 2) additives and 3) packaging. Furthermore, three different meanings were found to be associated with naturalness of food: 1) healthiness, 2) familiarity and 3) locality. The study offers contributions to research concerning the perceived naturalness of food and the definitions of naturalness. It presents insights of the consumer group of urban Finnish women, who are generally open to trying new foods linking the previous research on the perceived naturalness of food to a new consumer group and cultural context. The study offers some interesting insights especially for developers of novel food products. It also offers possibilities for future research; for example there seems to be noteworthy differences between the perceived naturalness of plant-based and animal-derived protein sources. Additionally, the research reveals there is a need to further study the value conflicts concerning the perceived naturalness of food and other ideals.