Evaluation, Choice, and Purchase

Daniela Ivanova

Department of Economics of Natural Resources, University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria

Introduction

Food choice is a complex process. When buying products, the consumer has to make successive steps:

  • 1) Problem recognition
  • 2) Information search
  • 3) Evaluation of alternatives
  • 4) Product choice (Solomon et al., 2006)

These steps should be thoroughly studied in order to understand how to obtain information, how beliefs are formed and what the criteria are in choosing a product. Of course, consumers do not always react in that order. Their behavior when purchasing food products is not always rational (i.e., it does not always lead to the best possible result for them). This raises the question of how to explain this behavior and what are the factors that influence it.

Food choice is determined by a very large number of factors (variables). But these factors are rarely considered together, probably because researchers tend to focus on a smaller portion of variables. Randall and Sanjur (1981) combine these factors in their model of food choice in three categories: person, product, and environment (see Figure 4.1.4.1). In this model, factors are defined but the cause-and-effect relationships between them are not identified. Despite numerous studies, there is no single model of human behavior, no unifying and all-encompassing theory that can predict it. Any attempt to explain behavior is made in a given context and relies on specific empirical observations. The analytical methods that are applied test one variable while the others are held constants. Therefore, we know a lot about individual factors (people, food, environment), but little about how they interact.

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.

Factors influencing food preferences. Source

Figure 4.1.4.1 Factors influencing food preferences. Source: Randall and Sanjur (1981). Reproduced with permission of Taylor and Francis. www.tandfonline.com.

 
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