PhD position Consumer valuation of natural ingredients with a changed function

Published on
September 12, 2017
Location Wageningen
Scientific field Behavior and Society
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We are looking for

New or reformulated products are introduced into markets frequently. Many of the new products are based on existing products in which an ingredient is replaced, or existing products that are changed by adding a new ingredient. A special situation is the case where the ingredient (or the product that becomes the ingredient) is already known, but not associated with the goal it will have in the new product – i.e. where the ingredient is repurposed. For example, bamboo has been introduced in fabrics to replace cotton, and algae have been introduced in processed foods to replace some meat. For consumers these combinations include initially unknown, potentially unexpected or even incompatible product-ingredient combinations. It is however unclear how consumers deal with these combinations.

In the current PhD project we aim to investigate the fundamental processes how consumers appraise such new combinations. This will entail the investigation how consumers can relate the new product to their existing knowledge, experience and associations with the original product and the ingredient. To what extent the specific combination of existing product and ingredient in combination with consumer knowledge, experience and associations relate to the goal of the new combined product. The degree to which the new product presents an unexpected combination compared to products with a similar purpose, and how knowledge of the ingredient and the original product influences this Whether unexpected combinations result in more difficulty appraising the new product for its new purpose, and to what extent, and following what appraisal dimension such difficult fit results in what kind of emotional responses to the new product.

We are looking for a PhD candidate who will investigate the fundamental process through which the inclusion of repurposed natural ingredients into existing products can contribute to or harm consumer perception of the new product as valuable.
In this project the candidate will
* Conduct a scoping study in which an overview of existing and close to market products with natural ingredients is created, and what factors determine whether the combination is unknown, unexpected or incompatible.
* Conduct experiments that will study how combinations of these natural ingredients and existing products relate to consumer perceptions of the new product as (un)expected and valuable.
* Conduct experiments that will study how schema fit translate to emotional appraisal dimensions and final product evaluation.

Your work will consist of designing, conducting, analyzing, and scientifically reporting the scoping study, which includes qualitative techniques (such as interviews or focus groups), and extensive series of consumer behavioral experiments. This requires skills with, or at least a strong willingness to learn how to conduct, analyze, and scientifically report complex, systematically designed consumer experiments, as well as qualitative research.

The project is a university-funded project by the Wageningen UR Marketing and Consumer Behaviour group. The project aims to provide fundamental answers to scientific questions regarding consumer behavior. Besides writing a PhD dissertation, you will present your work on (inter)national conferences and through scientific publications. We aim to publish the results in disciplinary consumer behavior/ psychology journals.

We ask

The candidate has:
* A clear scientific ambition in conducting and publishing fundamental consumer research
* A university degree (MSc) in a consumer behavior relevant field (e.g. consumer science, social psychology, behavioral economics). A research master, or other demonstration of research experience is a pre.
* Affinity and demonstrable experience with experimental (quantitative) research methods and/or qualitative research methods
* Excellent/Good control of English (both verbally and written)
* A group-social, critical, and positive learning attitude towards achieving excellence
* Affinity with responsible product innovation and/or emotion research


We offer

We offer a a full-time PhD position for a period of 18 months, extended by another 30 months after positive evaluation. Gross yearly salary will increase from € 31010 in the first year up to € 39635 in the last year based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week). You will be working in a pleasant and inspiring environment in the context of an innovative research consortium.

The supervision of this project will be done by Dr. Arnout Fischer, Dr. Ilona de Hooge and Prof Hans van Trijp. For more information about the post, please contact Dr Fischer (
Please do not use this e-mail address to apply. Only applications sent to our website can be taken into consideration.

More information

For more information you can contact:
Dr Arnout (ARH) Fischer ( or Dr Ilona (IE) De Hooge (
Please apply by uploading your CV and letter of motivatiom before September 25th.



We are

The Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Group is part of Wageningen University in the Social Sciences Group. The Marketing and Consumer Behaviour group is at the forefront of agricultural marketing groups of the world. Our mission is to increase the sustainability of the food production chain through our knowledge and understanding of and contribution to marketing and consumer behavior research.

Wageningen University and Research centre
Delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus – each and every day. Within our domain, healthy food and living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society – such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don’t do this alone. Every day, 6,500 people work on ‘the quality of life’, turning ideas into reality, on a global scale.