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Consumer sophistication as an enhancer of innovation in the food industry: measurement development and validation

Dongmin Lee (Department of Food Processing and Distribution, Gangneung-Wonju National University, Gangneung, Republic of Korea)
Junghoon Moon (Food Biz. Lab, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
Jaeseok Jeong (Graduate School of Pan-Pacific International Studies, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 27 December 2021

Issue publication date: 1 November 2022




Recently, the role of consumers in firms' innovation processes has increased. Prior literature asserts that qualitative aspects of consumers serve as crucial factors shaping the even competitiveness of a specific industry. This study focuses on measuring home demand conditions that enhance local firms' innovation.


The present study describes the development of a 12-item measure to assess consumer sophistication in the food industry. The items assess the general knowledge, experience, skills and abilities needed to purchase a specific food category. A second-order construct with three distinct first-order constructs emerged, which were termed opinion formulation, sensitivity and exposure with variety. The reliability and validity of the scale were assessed with pilot survey data using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. The developed measure was tested to investigate its effect on individuals' grocery buying behaviors using grocery receipt panel data from 723 consumers.


The results indicate that consumer sophistication has a positive effect on new and the variety of grocery purchases. The more sophisticated a consumer is, the more they buy new and a variety of products. The newly developed consumer sophistication measure has a variety of potential applications to predict consumers' variety-seeking and new product purchase behavior.


This study is the first to develop a measure for assessing demand quality, namely, consumer sophistication of a specific food product. This approach may offer insights to practitioners regarding the relevant consumer sophistication levels to target when launching a new product or service in the food industry.



Lee, D., Moon, J. and Jeong, J. (2022), "Consumer sophistication as an enhancer of innovation in the food industry: measurement development and validation", British Food Journal, Vol. 124 No. 11, pp. 3803-3820.



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