Functional Ingredients in Confectionary – What does the Swedish Consumer Say?
Abstract: This study has in line with its explorative purpose found a number of areas that would be interesting for further research. The innovation of functional confectionary caused problems for the consumer regarding the mix of health (functional food) and taste (confectionary). When comparing findings from the focus groups with indications from earlier research several similarities could be seen but also some differences. Among the similarities were the consumer’s knowledge about functional food and what functional food was. The participants showed low awareness of the fact that functional food is a regulated product that has to be tested prior to launch and that these products have a special logotype. Functional food was rather seen as healthy food in general with anything from fortifications to lactobacillus. Confectionary was primarily seen as healthy and a source of energy. The discussion on different functions in confectionary did show a higher interest for benefits closer to the original product of confectionary. Comparing the empirical findings with theory diffusion of innovations theory helped with the explanation of the observed behavior. The relative advantage was difficult to find with consumer concerns for the efficiency and reliability of the product as the benefit was preventive. The compatibility between functional food and confectionary representing the contradictory qualities of health and tasty or unhealthy caused debate regarding norms and values. Östberg’s theory on consumers’ food and health perceptions helped to explain some of the observed difficulties. Using the model on food and health functional confectionary was seen as a possible midway post between unhealthy and healthy eating reducing some of the anxiety Östberg observed when it came to consumers’ food choice regarding health. Additionally there were moral concerns raised as to the ethics of introducing a product as healthy even though containing sugar and other ingredients, not seen as healthy. This was especially seen as a problem if the product was targeted at children. This was partially explained using CSR where research has shown an interest from consumers regarding CSR-activities although the influence over consumers’ actual food choice is believed to be low. The compatibility between confectionary and health was also discussed from the aspect of the corporate brand. Consumers were concerned that confectionary no longer would be the same high in taste product it is seen as now, with alternative names being introduced making sure that a mix up between confectionary and functional confectionary would be avoided. Corporate brand theory indicated that the fears observed in the focus groups were in line with earlier research where product types not earlier sold by a company causes unease among consumers which reflects negatively on the company and brand. Regarding who that would be the most likely to adopt functional confectionary it was concluded that the three variables of knowledge, benefit and compatibility with norms, values and lifestyle were the most important segmentation factors rendering three possible segments. The first segment called health enthusiasts are believed to be interested in functional confectionary as everything they eat including occasional candy should be healthy. The second segment called change seekers are believed to be individuals that would like to change there diet in a healthy direction although stuck in a convenient routine. For these individuals functional confectionary would be bought as it could be seen as a small step towards a healthier diet. The third possible segment named the exercisers has a hectic lifestyle doing sports and using a lot of energy consuming confectionary as a source of fast energy. Theses individuals are believed to buy functional confectionary as a source high in energy maybe with some sort of healthy benefit. Comparing the empirical findings with food choice theory several similarit
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