Examining the use of nutrition labelling with photoelicitation

Joerg Koenigstorfer (Institute for Consumer and Behavioural Research, Saarland University, Saarbruecken, Germany)
Andrea Groeppel‐Klein (Institute for Consumer and Behavioural Research, Saarland University, Saarbruecken, Germany)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Publication date: 7 September 2010



The purpose of this paper is to report the results of a study using photoelicitation interviews to investigate the relationship between the habitualised and unconscious aspects of consumers' food choices, the front‐of‐pack nutrition labelling schemes on food products and the healthiness of their diets.


To this end, photographs of ten German middle‐class families at different stages of the family lifecycle were taken at the point of purchase (during a shopping trip made by the main person responsible for meal planning) and at the point of consumption (during a family meal at home). The paper used selected photographs as stimuli for photoelicitation. The interviews were recorded and analysed using a holistic approach.


Four themes concerning food characteristics, participants' food choices and their healthiness emerged from the data: perceived time pressure at the point of purchase; the relevance of nutrition information for making inferences with regard to the healthiness and tastiness of products; consumers' trust in nutrition information; and their use of this information at the point of purchase or point of consumption.

Research limitations/implications

Photoelicitation interviews allowed us to bridge the gap between researchers and respondents and to study what happens in real‐life situations when consumers go shopping and prepare family meals.

Practical implications

By putting nutrition information on food packaging, especially on the front of the pack, manufacturers and retailers enable consumers to make faster and healthier decisions at the point of purchase – i.e. as long as the consumers notice, understand, trust and like the labelling and use it in making their final decision. Front‐of‐pack labels are of less relevance at the point of consumption.


The paper provides a number of insights into the processes involved in making healthy (or unhealthy) food decisions. It also provides directions for future studies in visual research and in the fields of consumer behaviour, marketing and public policy.



Koenigstorfer, J. and Groeppel‐Klein, A. (2010), "Examining the use of nutrition labelling with photoelicitation", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 389-413. https://doi.org/10.1108/13522751011078818

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