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Food Res Int. 2018 Jun;108:440-454. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2018.03.067. Epub 2018 Mar 29.

In search of a consumer-focused food classification system. An experimental heuristic approach to differentiate degrees of quality.

Author information

1
Department of Business, Marketing and Sociology, University of Jaén, Campus Las Lagunillas s/n, 23071 Jaén, Spain. Electronic address: ftorres@ujaen.es.
2
Department of Business, Marketing and Sociology, University of Jaén, Campus Las Lagunillas s/n, 23071 Jaén, Spain. Electronic address: cmarano@ujaen.es.
3
Department of Psychology, University of Jaén, Campus Las Lagunillas s/n, 23071 Jaén, Spain. Electronic address: elopez@ujaen.es.

Abstract

The present paper focuses on the problems that arise in food classification systems (FCSs), especially when the food product type has different levels or grades of quality. Despite the principal function of these systems being to assist the consumer (to inform, clarify and facilitate choice and purchase), they frequently have the opposite effect. Thus, the main aim of the present research involves providing orientations for the design of effective food classification systems. To address this objective, considering the context of food product consumption (related to heuristic processing), we conducted an experimental study with 720 participants. We analysed the usefulness of heuristic elements by a factorial 2 (category length: short and long) × 3 (visual signs: colours, numbers and images) design in relation to recall and recognition activities. The results showed that the elements used to make the classification more effective for consumers vary depending on whether the user seeks to prioritize the recall or the recognition of product categories. Thus, long categories with images significantly improve recognition, and short categories with colours improve recall. A series of recommendations are provided that can help to enhance FCSs and to make them more intuitive and easier to understand for consumers. Implications with regard to theory and practice are discussed.

KEYWORDS:

Consumer behaviour; Experimental design; Food classification; Grading; Recall; Recognition

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