Insights from a diary study in Norway, Iceland and Denmark
Purpose – The evening meal is an important, regular event in the lives of many people and its daily practices lead consumers to develop habits that determine their food choices. The objective of the present work is to further investigate how consumers make choices by determining the stages as well as the content of the family’s daily food (i.e. seafood and meat-related) decision-making process. Design/methodology/approach – Twenty-four families in Denmark, Norway and Iceland were asked to fill in a one-to-two-week semi-structured diary regarding any thoughts they had about the decision-making sequence regarding their evening meals. Data were analysed by means of content analysis so as to gain insight into the main themes and distinctive patterns with respect to the four stages of the decision-making sequence by identifying a number of codes and sub-codes of high and lower abstraction level. Findings – The main results were similar across the three countries. Planning was the most important phase of the evening meal decision-making sequence, where Nordic respondents considered practical issues, and engaged in a more rational type of thinking, allowing cognitive aspects to prevail at this particular stage. The presence of rational thoughts was repeated in the successive stages of purchasing, whereas affective thoughts were elicited mainly during the later stages of preparation and consumption. Furthermore, the comparison of seafood and meat as choices that complied with respondents’ demands and expectations revealed that the two food types were perceived as substitutes for each other; however, meat was considered a choice that respondents felt more confident with in terms of pre- and post-purchasing experience. Originality/value – This paper offers substantial insights into the factors that influence the decision making process, as well as the importance that consumers assign to those factors across most stages of the decision making process. This valuable, in-depth information can only be collected by using qualitative methods such as the present diaries. Gaining insights into the factors that influence various stages of the evening meal decision-making process enables researchers to identify the importance that consumers assign to cognitive and affective factors across the food provisioning stages for a variety of food products (including seafood).
British Food Journal, 2012, Vol 114, Issue 11, p. 1533-1557