Policy Challenges and Consumer Conundrums
Chapter 7: Consumer responses to health foods
The growth of the health foods sector is dependent on continued consumer demand for these products. A growing literature charts consumer awareness and acceptance of health foods and assesses consumer willingness to pay (WTP) for health benefits. This chapter summarizes key insights from this literature. A brief overview of the primary methodological approaches used in the consumer literature is provided in Section 7.1 as a precursor to the discussion of the literature in section 7.2. Section 7.3 concludes the chapter with an assessment of the key messages arising from this body of research. Researchers interested in examining consumer awareness of health food products, their acceptance of new functional ingredients and their WTP for these products usually turn to survey methodologies to gather data for their analyses. Surveys enable researchers to gather data on consumers’ attitudes and preferences, the factors shaping attitudes and in particular, are useful in exploring the market potential for new functional foods or ingredients that may not yet be available commercially. A considerable number of the consumer research studies summarized in Section 7.2 use Stated Preference survey techniques. This encompasses a family of methodologies in which consumer preferences are elicited through requesting that respondents indicate their preferences for a product or product attribute in a survey. This differs from Revealed Preference data in which preferences are inferred from real market data reflecting actual purchases.
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