Is frozen the new fresh? : An observational study of low-involvement product choices.

University essay from Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi; Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi

Abstract: The world today faces many challenges in terms of sustainability and how the world will be able to continue to meet demands of future generations. Sustainability aspects are considered by customers and organizations to a greater extent today than ever before. Businesses need to find new ways forward to encourage sustainable consumption to be able to exist in the future. The increasing amount of food waste represents one of many sustainability challenges and is a stated problem in developed countries. In Sweden, the households stand for the biggest amount of food waste along the entire supply chain. Producing something that is later wasted is an inefficient use of resources. This study aims to identify barriers for consumers to act pro-environmentally when consuming products of low involvement and find ways for the industry to overcome them. The thesis is commissioned for a large bread company in Sweden, who is in the starting blocks of start selling frozen bread, something that is not done to a great extent today. Frozen bread is a more environmentally sustainable alternative than substitute products and it will serve as the low-involvement product in focus of this study. The theoretical framework is built on theories regarding consumer decision-making, consumer behavior, sustainability and sustainable consumption. Through in-store observations of customers accompanied by follow-up interviews, a solid amount of data was gathered which allowed the authors to address the gap between intentions and behavior. Semi-structured interviews with the manager of the grocery store and the commissioned company give insights to the industry perspective of sustainability and consumer behavior. The empirical findings are presented from each data collection instance and are later analyzed and discussed with regard to four sub-purposes and the theoretical framework. The results have shown that existing barriers relate to customers’ habits, inertia, attitudes and lack of knowledge. The industry has the opportunity to bring forward sustainable products without tradeoffs, to create a win-win situation. By appealing to the customers’ hedonic needs and informing them about environmental benefits it is possible to influence customer norms to achieve a pro-environmental behavioral change. 

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