Parsing out the effects of personal consumption norms and industry influences on food consumption volume

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
European Journal of Marketing, 2016, 50 (3-4), pp. 377 - 396
Issue Date:
2016-01-01
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© 2016, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to test whether individuals possess personal consumption norms and idiosyncratic reference points to which they target behaviour. These personal consumption norms are related to the amount of food consumed independent of industry influences, specifically the size of the package offered and the perceived healthiness of the food. We also examine the extent to which one’s commitment to adhere to their personal consumption norm (referred to as “commitment to norm”) influences food consumption volume. Design/methodology/approach: Three experiments are presented, two involve estimates of food consumption and the third examines actual food consumption. Findings: All studies demonstrate that participants can provide a personal consumption norm for how much food they would typically consume that is independent of manipulated industry influences and that actual consumption is significantly related to their personal consumption norms. Furthermore, commitment to norm is negatively related to the absolute difference between their personal consumption norm and the amount of food consumed; however, supporting evidence was only realized in the case of actual food consumption, suggesting that commitment to norm does not have an effect on the formation of intentions. Research limitations/implications: The authors demonstrate that at a point in time, personal norms are fixed. However, it is possible that norms may be shaped by industry influences over time. The authors suggest further research into how these personal norms evolve over time, as well as assessing how these norms affect the likelihood of going from zero consumption to some positive amount. Practical implications: Many studies indicate that marketers can easily influence food consumption volume. However, their ability to influence actual consumption volume is circumscribed by factors beyond their control, namely idiosyncratic personal consumption norms. Social implications: Over time, it is likely that personal consumption norms have emanated from a variety of antecedents, almost certainly including prior industry experience and situational/social influences. Repeated exposure to external influences is likely to shift the personal norm reference point over time. Originality/value: Personal consumption norms are carefully disentangled from industry influences and are shown to significantly relate to food consumption volume, independent (but not to the exclusion) of industry influences.
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