Purpose – The purpose of the research presented in this paper is 1) To explore peer influence and the social and symbolic meaning that adolescents (10 to 16 years) attach to snacks; and 2) to investigate the relative influence of peer influence compared to personal factors in explaining perceived importance of snack attributes; and 3) To investigate age and gender differences in the peer influence process. Design/methodology/approach – A web-based survey distributed via email was combined with follow-up focus groups including adolescents aged 10 to 16 years in Denmark. Findings – The survey results show that the youngest adolescents and the girls perceived the highest influence from peers, and that peer social influence has more effect on what adolescents perceive as important snack attributes as compared to more personal factors. The focus group results show that adolescents purchase and consume snacks that support their self-image when socializing with other peers. Research limitations/implications – Future research should measure other aspects of peer influence and related social aspects regarding consumption settings. Practical implications – The results in this paper may be useful to marketers developing social marketing campaigns aiming at reducing bullying among adolescents or promoting healthy snacking. Social implications – Moreover, the results may help generate societal emphasis on the importance of social and self-image aspects in consumption settings when it comes to adolescent snacking behaviour, healthy food choices and social development.
Journal of Social Marketing, 2013, Vol 3, Issue 2, p. 176-194
Peer influence; Snacking behaviour; Health; Symbolic and social meaning; Adolescents; social marketing