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IV Consumer Acceptance

Consumer Behavior with Regard to Quality Perception of Food Products and Decision Making

The Quality Concept

Mariantonietta Fiore and Francesco Conto

Department of Economics, University of Foggia, Italy

Introduction

The quality concept is a cross-cutting theme that received and is receiving particular and continuous attention in many disciplines. It has been defined in many ways, and the effects of the quality on the firms organization, on the health and lives of people, on production systems, on the behavior of markets, customers, and so on have been studied. It is a matter of biology, ethics, management, marketing, operations management, logistics, and supply chain management, and different professions such as engineers, business economists, sociologists, and psychologists deal with it.

The concept of quality has evolved significantly over the years and encompasses every feature of importance by processors or customers. Some authors have proposed a dynamic view of correlating the evolution of the concept at various times for economic development and business management (Dooley, 2000) with a model that identifies three specific moments: a preindustrial paradigm of caveat emptor (from the ancient times to the Industrial Revolution), when quality was mainly related to the buyer and the need for the goods offered was consistent with its requirements. The consumer directly controlled the quality because at that time the producer was not a factory but a craftsman, so it was easier for the customer to relate to the producer and guide the activities toward the desired level of quality. This paradigm of quality control changed after the Industrial Revolution and especially after the great transformation in the organizational methods of the production process, invented by Taylor (2004). The use of new technologies for the production of goods in large-scale series for the growing market demand (mass market) with unskilled labor, required the solution of organizational and managerial problems more complex than in the past. The economies of scale were the overriding goal of the production, so the quality was seen as testing, as final product inspection for compliance to predefined technical requirements.

Finally, a postindustrial paradigm of total quality management emerged, which, by extending the logic of the products and production processes control, widens the horizons to the organizational learning and to the participative management claiming that the pursuit of total quality cannot be a technical and functional responsibility but should permeate the culture of the whole organization.

Advances in Dairy Products, First Edition.

Edited by Francesco Conto, Matteo A. Del Nobile, Michele Faccia, Angelo V. Zambrini, and Amalia Conte. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Published 2018 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

The concept of quality can be defined in a technical way (zero defects, conformance to specifications) (Crosby, 1964); in order to highlight the central role of the relationship product/customer (service level, customer satisfaction) (Juran, 1967); other definitions concern the total supply of product (in order to offer a product that meets the customer's needs at the lowest cost), and the company whose quality must be achieved in five key areas: people, means, methods, materials, and environment in order to ensure customer satisfaction (Deming, 1967). Every definition and theoretical approach has the same basic message: the achievement of an excellent quality requires customer focus and continuous improvement based on a rigorous analysis of the processes.

This chapter is aimed to analyze the quality concept at the light of new global challenges: health, ethics, safety, and emotions. The remainder of this chapter is organized as follows: the next two sections analyze quality concept and its perspectives, and the new consumer buzzwords in the agri-food sector; then, the third section gives insight on quality concept in the dairy sector. The last section draws conclusive remarks and firm choices implications.

 
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