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Status most important to food shoppers

Status most important to food shoppers

Consumers may say they look for high quality when they choose groceries at the supermarket - or that they would be willing to pay more for eco-friendly, locally sourced food products. However, what really drives our choices is the status of a product, according to new research from Lund University in Sweden.


WATCH: What drives our choices at the supermarket?


"Consumers can't gauge what high quality is without the status of a brand guiding them", says Johan Anselmsson, Associate Professor of Brand Management at Lund University. "Most of our choices in the supermarket aren't made for the rational reasons we think they are."

The study compared consumers' perceptions of certain food brands with what they actually buy at the supermarket.

To get around the problem that we say one thing but do another, the researchers developed a new method based on Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman's theories about decision-making. Consumers weren't asked directly what they found important, as people tend to list rational things such as low price and high quality.

Instead, the participants were asked what properties they associated with a range of brands. A computer program then linked their associations to what they usually purchased, and their spending behaviour. 

"The method brings out the intuitive and subconscious elements of our choices. The results can help companies become better at matching their offerings to customer needs", says Johan Anselmsson. 

A number of well-known companies have already successfully used the research to hone their strategies. So how can a company increase the status of their brand? Anselmsson say there are four easy ways to climb the status ladder:

- Associating your product with a famous or credible person,
- Aligning or working with another high status company,
- Linking your product to a region or country,
- Sponsoring an event (for example the Olympics).

Johan Anselmsson, Associate Professor, Lund University
johan [dot] anselmsson [at] fek [dot] lu [dot] se

Brand image and customers' willingness to pay a price premium for food brands