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  • HealthClaimsUnpacked

I say potato, you say potassium

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

Chris Ryder, University of Reading

Our four focus groups back in April and May told us a lot of interesting things about consumers' behaviour when they're buying packaged foods, and gave us a lot of useful insight into creating our digital toolkit. However, we were also able to observe more generally some interesting differences in the way different types of people approach food altogether.

In these focus groups, people were given some real examples of food packages and asked to put them in three groups – healthy, unhealthy, and those that they were less sure about. As we have seen in a previous blog post, our group of Mothers saw the majority of these foods as unhealthy – even peas were not put into the "healthy" group, because they were frozen! But they did admit to certain ways in which they would be willing to lower their standards if it meant that their children were getting a benefit as well.

So what about the other demographics we talked to? Interestingly, all of them seemed to have quite different overall opinions of the food packages!

Our group of older people (aged 50-70), for example, had the opinion that all of the foods we presented them with were definitely bad and should be avoided at all costs, and that they were simply trying to pick out those that were not quite as horrific as all the others. On the other hand, our group of health-conscious men (aged 30-45) were the complete opposite: they felt that none of those same products were particularly bad, but that maybe there were one or two they could identify as not quite as good!

The fourth group we spoke to were students (aged 18-25). Their opinion seemed to be that, yes, most of the products were pretty bad, but that it didn't really bother them when it came to purchasing habits – if a product was "yummy", they'd just buy it and eat it anyway!

More could certainly be learned by having a wider range of people in the focus groups, but it's nevertheless clear how difficult life must be for manufacturers, who would ideally like to appeal to all types of people. If you were in their position, what would you do to try and attract as many people as possible to your product? Let us know your ideas using the Contact Us link above.

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