Personalised nutrition

The number of people suffering from health problems related to unhealthy diets in the Netherlands is still rising: obesity and its associated problems such as type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Public health campaigns, most of them with a one-size-fits-all approach, have hardly been effective in mitigating the nutrition-related non-communicable diseases and its consequences. Recent academic studies in the field of human nutrition show that differences between individuals determine how their health is affected by their diet. This implies that different individuals could respond differently to the same their diets.

Measuring consumer characteristics

People differ in numerous ways, not only physically, but also socially and psychologically. In addition to insight into health status and food intake, consumer characteristics have to be taken into account as a basis for personalisation. Ideally, a personalised advice should take a consumer’s unique circumstances into account. Not only socio-demographic characteristics, such as household composition or age, but also social-psychological factors should be measured to tailor nutritional advice to the person. From previous consumer research we know the characteristics that correspond to an interest in personalised nutrition. People who have been diagnosed with a lifestyle-related health condition (e.g. high blood pressure, obesity) are more motivated to comply with personalised nutrition advice. A sense of nutrition self-efficacy, an internal locus of control, commitment to health, and trust in the efficacy of proper regulatory control to protect consumers are characteristics that positively affect consumers’ intentions for personalised nutrition.

Consumer acceptance of personalised nutrition

Consumers differ in their willingness to adapt their lifestyles based on personalised advice. Generally, there are some conditions that have to be met before they will decide to adhere to it. It has to deliver actual and clear benefits, and these need to exceed benefits consumers can obtain by regular nutrition recommendations. In this respect, insight into underlying motives and (food) preferences of consumers, and how these motives could differ for different contexts, is crucial. People also make a trade-off between the benefits they can obtain and the risks they run by disclosing personal information. In this trade-off, consumers weigh providers’ commercial interests and their competence. Freedom of choice is unnegotiable for consumers. Another facet that should be taken into account is the extent to which consumers are willing to use different technologies and measurements (i.e., do-it-yourself measurement technologies) that are involved in a personalised approach.

Communicating personalised advice

Attention should be paid to how generated personalised advice should be communicated to consumers. Providing a personalised advice without taking into account how this should be communicated may result in an advice that does not last, despite being well-tailored. For example, some consumers like to have more information, whereas others want less information. In addition, some people like to have more choice options than other people. Also, the framing of the message could depend on to whom the message is targeted and the format in which it is brought. For example, you can think of: education, gaming, framing of the message, nudging (in a personalised context) or social benchmarking.

Business models

A business model describes how an organisation creates value for its customers. It reflects what the organisation thinks the customer wants, how he wants it, and how the company should be organised to meet these needs and at the same time remain profitable. For example, characteristics that could distinguish different business models related to personalised nutrition from each other include the type of information upon which the offer is personalised (food intake, physical health indicators, DNA), target group (e.g. overweight people), communication channel (personal contact, internet), or strategic partnerships of the provider (e.g. with a supplement producer).