Special Session Summary Food-Related Lifestyle: Results From Three Continents


Klaus G Grunert (1996) ,"Special Session Summary Food-Related Lifestyle: Results From Three Continents", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, eds. Russel Belk and Ronald Groves, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 64-65.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, 1996      Pages 64-65



Klaus G Grunert, MAPP, The Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus, Denmark


All companies which in some way or another are concerned with the production and distribution of food products base their living on the value consumers perceive in the products manufactured. Since information transfer from the consumer through the value chain back to the producer is usually quite limited, techniques for market surveillance are invoked that can provide information on consumer value perception. Such information is useful for purposes like developing a general understanding of consumers on a particular market, comparing consumers across different markets and cultures, detecting trends over time, and segmenting consumers according to how they perceive value in products. This would improve understanding of consumers on any particular market, but would also allow to look at possibilities for cross-national segmentation, allowing partly-global marketing strategies.

Ever since Levitt’s controversial article on the globalization of markets, there has been a standing discussion on which degree of standardisation versus adaptation of marketing parameters is appropriate under which circumstances. Few subscribe fully to Levitt’s forceful argument that, driven by developments in technology and mass communication, consumers tend to develop homogeneous preferences around the world, and that marketers’ attempts to adapt locally is a waste of resources which should better be spent to bring down costs and make products attainable to more people. The more refined argument is that certain marketing parameters may be standardised to varying degrees, depending on characteristics of the market, the product, the company and the environment as such.

As for the characteristics of markets, a major issue is whether comparable segments can be found across national boundaries, which could warrant a standardised approach. On consumer markets, this amounts to the question whether, with regard to certain product areas, there exist groups of consumers whose reactions to marketing parameters transcend cultural differences and are more oriented towards cross-national symbols and value cues.

Food products have a special status in this context. Two opposing tendencies seem to be at work in today’s food markets. On the one hand, food culture seems to be a domain of increasingly transnational character. On the othe hand, there is substantial evidence from several sources that food culture is one of the domains characterised by considerable inertia. Food products are markers helping define social situations. It is a category in which we are capable of quickly judging various products, the way they are cooked and presented as familiar or strange. It is a product category where very strong habits and preferences are often found. One can therefore speak about a relative stability that characterises eating patterns in different societies. Due to the importance of local geographical conditions for the availability of food items, regional patterns have traditionally been particularly relevant for food products. Such regional patterns persist today even if modern distribution systems have liberated local eating patterns from the constraints of climate etc.

In opposition to that, food is at the same time a field of consumption where we are very often encouraged to try out new things; an invitation which bears relatively little risk since the consequences of mistakes and disappointments are normally short-term and not too serious. Recent years have seen an explosion in the supply of new food products in most markets. Improved conditions of production and transport facilities along with the international communication possibilities, immigration and tourism have caused great upheavals in the majority of European food cultures.

It is thus an interesting question of both practical and scientific importance whether it is possible to find cross-national segments on food markets. A prerequisite for answering this question is the development of measurement devices which fulfil the criterion for cross-cultural validity. Considerable progress has been made in recent years in developing and testing such instruments. With regard to the food area, the instrument food-related lifestyle has been developed, tested, and applied in a number of contextsBfirst in Europe, and more recently also in the Asian and Australian environment.

The session drew together results and implications from applying the food-related lifestyle instrument on three continents. The session as a whole served three purposes. Firstly, it contributed with considerable information on food-related consumer behaviour world-wide. Secondly, it contributed with considerable experience on the methodological problems involved in conducting cross-cultural research. Thirdly, it contributed to an evolving theoretical framework for analysing cross-cultural similarities and differences in consumer behaviour.



Lone Bredahl Johansen, MAPP The Aarhus School of Business, Denmark

Klaus G Grunert, MAPP, The Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus, Denmark

Food markets are claimed to be characterised by two opposing tendencies: On the one hand, food culture seems to be a domain of increasingly transitional character. On the other hand, there is substantial evidence that food culture has considerable inertia.

This presentation reported a series of studies aimed at investigating whether cross-national food consumer segments can be found. Food consumer segments are derived using the food-related lifestyle instrument, which characterises consumers by how they employ food and eating to obtain life values. The instrument, which has been developed especially with a view towards cross-national comparisons, consists of 69 items measuring 23 dimensions. 1000 respondents each were interviewed in Denmark, France, Germany and the United Kingdom

A test of the cross-cultural validity of the data obtained using a confirmatory factor analysis approach showed that the data have at least minimal cross-cultural comparability. Nation-wise cluster analysis using Ward’s method yielded sets of five or six segments per country. The segments were named the uninvolved, the careless, the rational, the conservative ad the adventurous food consumer. A comparison of the segment profiles across nations by MDS showed that most segments group naturally, even though there are numerous differences in the absolute scale means across nations for comparable segments. A cross-national cluster analysis yielded four segments which could be interpreted in a way similar to the across-nation analysis of the national segments profiles. It was also shown that the way in which the national segments are distributed across the cross-national segments supports this interpretation. The results tend to indicate a rather strong tendency towards cross-national segments.



S°ren Askegaard MAPP, Odense University, Odense, Denmark

Karen Bruns° MAPP, The Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus, Denmark

Kaye Crippen, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Reinti Liang, National University of Singapore, Singapore

The food-related lifestyle instrument has, up til now, been mostly applied in the context of European cultures. The main purpose of the present study is to apply the food-related life style instrument in a new and very different cultural setting, to compare results, and to interpret similarities and differences found.

For this purpose, data have been collected in Singaporean families using the food-related life style instrument. A total of 89 questionnaires form the basis form the basis for the analysis.

In the first part of the analysis, we want to test the cross-cultural validity of the instrument, which indicates whether and how the instrument can be applied in cultural environments which are considerably different from Western European ones. Such an analysis may provide useful insights to future attempts to segment consumers across cultural borders. The method used for this test is based on the extended factor congruence criterion proposed by Grunert et al., applying the LISREL programme.

Secondly, and in the light of the cross-cultural validity of the instrument, we are interested in the interpretation of similarities and differences which follow from the cross-cultural comparison. More specifically, we will interpret the results in the light of relationships and processes involved in the interplay between internationalisation and globalisation of food consumption and the persistence of local food cultures.



Biljana Juric, University of Otago

Tony Garrett, University of Otago

Michael Powell, University of Otago

Although the study of food eating behaviour is almost 200 years old, there is no consensus on the underlying criteria of the food purchase. In the present presentation, results from two studies conducted in New Zealand and Australia will be presented.

For the first study, eight purchase criteria were identified on the basis of the review of the food consumer behaviour studies and on a preliminary study done on a student population. They are related to the shopping behaviour items used in the food-related life style instrument. Nine hundred New Zealanders, in a random procedure, were sampled for the survey where importance of the criteria was assessed. Psychographic and demographic variables were used to explain the differences in the importance of the criteria and to identify six food shopper profiles.

In the second study, a subset of the food-related lifestyle instrument was used in an Australian sample. The data are analysed with special regard to differences in food-related lifestyle between Australia and the corresponding European results.



Klaus G Grunert, MAPP, The Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus, Denmark


AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2 | 1996

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