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Segmentation of US consumers based on food safety attitudes

Jean Kennedy (University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Michelle Worosz (Food Safety Policy Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)
Ewen C. Todd (Food Safety Policy Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)
Maria K. Lapinski (Food Safety Policy Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 4 July 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research paper is to segment US consumers based on their attitudes towards food safety and to demographically characterize each segment so that effective risk communication strategies and outreach programs may be developed to target vulnerable groups.

Design/methodology/approach

Factor analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis were applied to data on consumer food safety attitudes of a probability sample of US adults, collected by telephone questionnaires (n=1,014).

Findings

The diversity of consumer attitudes was based on five factors; concern, trust, desire for a high level of regulation, acceptance for the number of people who are ill, hospitalized or die from foodborne illness, and preference for the right to purchase foods that are not guaranteed to be safe. The consumer segments identified on the bases of these factors can be classified as “confident,” “independent”, “trusting”, “cautious”, or “apprehensive” consumers. Socio‐demographic characteristics; education, income, person with allergy in the household, and person under the age of six living in the household, varied significantly between each consumer segment.

Practical implications

This study can inform effective food safety intervention strategies and target consumers most in need of food safety education that may enhance overall food safety knowledge and/or lead to changes in their behavior.

Originality/value

This paper uses exploratory factor analysis to identify the factors that underlie consumers' attitudes towards food safety. It is the first study to segment US consumers based on these factors and to demographically characterize each segment.

Keywords

Citation

Kennedy, J., Worosz, M., Todd, E.C. and Lapinski, M.K. (2008), "Segmentation of US consumers based on food safety attitudes", British Food Journal, Vol. 110 No. 7, pp. 691-705. https://doi.org/10.1108/00070700810887167

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited