Consumer satisfaction with food labels during the pre–purchase in–store evaluation : a study in Gauteng
Food labels are imperative in consumers' decision-making process of packaged food products as they communicate important information such as expiry dates, nutrition information and information about allergies to the consumer. Especially during a first-time purchase, consumers rely on food labels to assist them in making their product choice easier. In the heterogeneous context of South Africa, consumers' product needs vary and one may assume that consumer needs in terms of food label information differ. Although food labelling is regulated in South Africa, it is still important that consumers are satisfied with labels due to their significant communicative function. However, to the knowledge of the author, little previous research exists on South African consumers' satisfaction with food labels. Therefore, this study aimed to explore and describe consumers' satisfaction with food labels based on a typical in-store encounter. The confirmation/disconfirmation paradigm had been used as theoretical foundation in this study and consumers' expectations and performance judgement of food labels were therefore explored and compared within the confirmation/disconfirmation paradigm. This study furthermore aimed to explore the influence of food labels on consumers' product choice as well as to determine the influence of demographic characteristics on consumers' expectations and performance judgement of food labels. Lastly, this study aimed to make recommendations to food regulators and manufacturers on how existing food labels could be improved in order to enhance consumer satisfaction. Based on the literature, satisfaction with food labels might be influenced by the information on food labels such as ingredient lists, expiry dates and nutrition information as well as attributes of food labels such as the readability, understandability, credibility and adequacy. Exploratory factor analysis used in the present study indicated that the information on food labels can be classified as either primary (ingredient list, expiry date, health and nutrition information, information about allergies and quality guarantee) or secondary (name of manufacturer, well-known logos or symbols, country of origin or geographical region, usage instructions and number of servings). A quantitative research method by means of a survey approach was used in this study over a period of three weeks. A total of 400 self-administered questionnaires were distributed at office buildings and business premises in the urban Gauteng Province in September 2010 by means of a non-probability sampling method. A total of 279 useful questionnaires were retrieved and data analysis was performed by Statistical Consultations Services of the North-West University using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences). Results show that respondents were only partially satisfied with food labels as they were satisfied with secondary information, but dissatisfied with primary information as well as with label attributes. The results furthermore show that primary information tended to be more likely to influence respondents' product choice than secondary information. In addition, results show that demographics had little influence on respondents' expectations and performance judgement of food labels. Based on the findings of this study, recommendations can be made to regulators and manufacturers on how consumer satisfaction with existing food labels can be improved. Recommendations include the improvement of the overall readability, understandability, credibility as well as adequacy of food labels. Especially primary information and the way it gets portrayed should be considered for improvement to increase consumer satisfaction.
- Health Sciences