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Consumer psychology for food choices: a systematic review and research directions

Abdul Wahid Khan (Indian Institute of Management Indore, Indore, India)
Jatin Pandey (Indian Institute of Management Indore, Indore, India)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 20 January 2023

Issue publication date: 23 November 2023




Consumer food behavior has received considerable attention from marketers, researchers and regulators. With the rising obesity epidemic worldwide, the existing literature and previous reviews provide a limited understanding of consumers’ unhealthy food choices. To address this gap, this study aims to investigate consumer psychology for food choices in terms of mental processes and behavior.


This systematic literature review analyzed 84 research papers accessed from the Web of Science database and selected high-quality marketing journals. A detailed analysis identified themes arranged in an organizing framework. Gaps, limitations, convergence and ambivalent findings were noted to derive future research directions.


Major themes in the literature include food marketers’ actions (food stimuli and context), environmental influence (micro and macro) and consumer psychology and personal factors, leading to food choice related decisions. The antecedents and consequences of food choice healthiness are summarized. Several studies converged on the benefits of health motivations and goals, food literacy and customizing meals bottom-up on food choice healthiness.

Research limitations/implications

This review helps researchers gain state-of-the-art understanding on consumer psychology for food choices. It presents ambivalent and converging findings, gaps and limitations of extant research to inform researchers about issues that need to be addressed in the literature. This review presents future research questions to guide research on critical issues. This literature review contributes to marketing domain literature on consumer’s food well-being and overall well-being.

Practical implications

This review offers actionable insights for food marketers, policymakers and nongovernmental organizations to drive consumer demand for healthier foods, focusing on food labeling, food environment, message framing and raising consumer awareness.


This review offers current understanding of consumer psychology for food choices focusing on healthiness, an aspect lacking in previous literature reviews.



Khan, A.W. and Pandey, J. (2023), "Consumer psychology for food choices: a systematic review and research directions", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 57 No. 9, pp. 2353-2381.



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