Innovative consumers more willing to buy foodstuffs containing seaweed

Nieuws

Innovative consumers more willing to buy foodstuffs containing seaweed

Gepubliceerd op
14 maart 2018

Seaweed is used increasingly more often in food products. It is a relatively unknown product to many consumers which makes introducing it to customers more difficult. An initial investigation by Wageningen Economic Research and Wageningen Food & Biobased Research indicates that including seaweed in a product results in a higher purchase intention. However, more seaweed in a product (5%, 50% versus 100%) does not necessarily lead to greater consumer acceptance.

Seaweed is used increasingly more often in food products. It is a relatively unknown product to many consumers which makes introducing it to customers more difficult. An initial investigation by Wageningen Economic Research and Wageningen Food & Bioabased Research indicates that including seaweed in a product results in a higher purchase intention. However, more seaweed in a product (5%, 50% versus 100%) does not necessarily lead to greater consumer acceptance.

Case: seaweed wraps

Hybrid products consist of a combination of the original ingredients and a percentage, in this case, of seaweed. The study looked into the willingness of consumers to eat seaweed wraps; a kale wrap, one wrap with 5% seaweed, another with 50% and a third made 100% of seaweed. The percentage of seaweed in the product turned out to have no effect on the purchase intention. Though consumers were more willing to buy seaweed wraps compared to kale wraps. Additionally, the manner of communicating about the product (emotional vs cognitive) affects consumer perceptions. For example, in the case of a cognitive message, the 100% seaweed version received a more negative assessment when it came to aroma, taste and texture than did the hybrid version of seaweed wraps. In the case of an emotional message, these negative effects were decreased for the 100% seaweed wraps. This implies that emotional messages decrease the barriers concerning aroma, taste and texture.

Finally, the findings reveal that consumers scoring high on so-called innovation adoption (is the consumer open to new ideas in foodstuffs?), or on social norm (does the consumer see people in their environment eating seaweed?) show a greater intention to try out seaweed.

Recommendations for food products containing seaweed

On the basis of the outcomes, the researchers recommend using the existing association in the minds of the consumers between seaweed and the environment when positioning the product. In addition, make use of emotional communication signals to emphasise sustainability and overcome barriers. Emphasise positive feelings and the emotional sides of the product. Products consisting of 100% seaweed need the most support in the form of recipes and tips. A target-specific approach seems to be effective: people with a high social norm and/or those who are open to innovation take a more positive attitude towards seaweed. By contrast, product adaptation has only a minor impact.