Consumer Behaviour

To market your products successfully, you need to understand your consumers and ensure that your activities reflect this understanding.

The research area brings together experts in marketing, consumer behaviour, innovation and food business. By conducting nationwide surveys and experiments we study the behaviour of consumers with regard to new trends and technologies.  We also advise clients on marketing, innovation management and food-related business issues.

Expertise

Consumer surveys

  • Questionnaire development, conducting surveys, statistical analysis of the data
  • Nationwide surveys and experimental studies
  • Online surveys with our own nationwide and/or regional panel
  • Qualitative interviews with consumers/experts and focus groups with guidelines, transcripts and analysis

Methods

  • Quantitative research methods such as segmentation, key driver analysis, experimental design
  • Qualitative research methods such as interviews and focus groups

Projects

Current projects

In the project, we are researching consumer behaviour for the development of strategic measures for sustainable eating habits in Switzerland and Vietnam. This requires a comprehensive knowledge of barriers and motivators associated with behavioural change towards sustainable consumption. Topics here include the reduction of meat consumption and food waste as well as the consumption of meat alternatives, such as insects. The project is being carried out jointly with the Vietnam National University of Agriculture.

Duration: 2021–2024

In this project, we are quantifying the food flows in the food system of the city of Bern and estimating the shares of regionally and/or sustainably produced food. We are also estimating the food waste flows at the level of the sales channels in the urban food system and modelling the production potential of regional agriculture under the current and a location-adapted production intensity. In addition, we are developing strategies and recommendations for action for a more sustainable food system in Bern that guarantees the regenerative capacity of natural resources. In particular, we are developing solution strategies to enable households with lower incomes to have access to sustainable and healthy food from the region. The project is a cooperation project with the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern and the Bernese Department for Environmental Protection.

Duration: 2022–2024

A sustainable lifestyle within the limits of natural resources in terms of housing and diet is not equally feasible for all city dwellers. To achieve structural change, we therefore see social niche innovations such as urban villages, which want to shape their own lifestyles and live sustainably, as indispensable. In the Urban Future Lab Webergut Zollikofen, we want to co-creatively explore a good life within a consumption corridor that enables one-planet living. The project is in collaboration with BFH-AHB, Urbanen Dörfern and the Berner Bio-Offensive, with additional financial support from the Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE.

Duration: 2021–2022

Whey as a by-product of cheese production has a high physiological nutritional value for humans, but in Switzerland it is mainly used in animal feed. In this project, we are researching the local market structures around small and medium-sized cheese dairies and dairies in Switzerland and analysing necessary conditions for selling whey products in local value chains for direct human nutrition. In addition, we are quantifying the effects of direct utilisation of whey products in human nutrition for sustainability. The project is in collaboration with BFH-TI.
 
Duration: 2021–2022

Completed projects and Publications

Three-dimensional food printing is currently a major focus of technology-driven research in the food sector. However, little is known about consumers’ attitude to this. The fact that people in Switzerland have a preference for natural products makes this issue even more pertinent. In what circumstances do particular consumers choose printed products? How does this correlate with interest in food and their knowledge of it? Do individualised foods have the greatest potential and how do consumers picture that? To investigate the general public’s acceptance of this new technology, we are conducting a comprehensive nationwide survey accompanied by consumer tasting opportunities.

About a third of all food is lost at some point between the field and plate – half of it within the home. This issue has not only an ethical dimension but also a significant environmental impact. In this project we explore how consumers deal with the problem, categorise them into different types according to their attitude to food waste and identify ways of addressing these segments in order to reduce the quantity of wasted food in as efficient a way as possible.
Project management: Thomas Brunner, Mathilde Delley

Insects are regarded as a food of the future. Would this be accepted by people in Switzerland? What arguments can be used to win consumers round and which segment is most open to the idea? These and other questions are being answered by conducting and analysing a large-scale survey in German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland and organising tasting experiments. 

According to the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), almost a third of the environmental impact of consumption is attributable to the food sector. Consumers who want to live sustainably are trying to combat this. They have a clear idea of what a sustainable diet involves. The dissertation ‘Sustainable consumption and lifestyles in Switzerland – a sociological study of individuals’ perceptions of the lifestyle of health and sustainability’ analyses these ideas, considers what consumers are doing and looks at the barriers and dilemmas that they face. It is published (in German) by Peter Lang Verlag. 

A bowl of muesli is healthier than a croissant. Most people know that, because knowledge of healthy eating is widespread. Every day many people nevertheless opt for less healthy foods, because knowledge exerts only a small influence on eating behaviour and is overridden by stimuli in the environment. The project sets out to identify these stimuli and to show how health motives can be activated so that healthy foods are more frequently chosen. 

  • Schätzung von Nachfrageelastizitäten für verschiedene Lebensmittel (Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft)

  • Better Taste! Less waste. Methodology development: Food acceptance, food intake and plate waste. A pilot study in Swiss school canteens.

  • Säuelen, böckelen, gräselen: Wie entstehen Fehlaromen im Fleisch und wie lassen sie sich vermeiden?

  • Die schmackhafte, gesunde und nachhaltige Alternative zu Fleisch

  • Konsum bezüglich landwirtschaftlicher Produkte (Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft)

  • Förderung der regionalen Produkte in der Gemeinschaftsgastronomie – Analyse der Beschaffungs- und Logistikstruktur in der Gemeinschaftsgastronomie für regionale Lebensmittel im Kanton Aargau

  • Agrifood & Tourismus Grindelwald/Schweiz

  • Entwicklung eines Food Lexikons der tamilischen Lebensmittel und Getränke

Arnaudova, M., Brunner, T. A., & Götze, F. (2022). Examination of students' willingness to change behaviour regarding meat consumption. Meat Science, 184, 108695.

Franco Lucas, B., Götze, F., Vieira Costa, J. A., & Brunner, T. A. (2022). Consumer Perception Toward “Superfoods”: A Segmentation Study. Journal of International Food & Agribusiness Marketing, 1–19.

Franco Lucas, B., Costa, J. A. V., & Brunner, T. A. (2021). Superfoods: Drivers for Consumption. Journal of Food Products Marketing, 27(1), 1–9.

Götze, F., & Brunner, T. A. (2021). A Consumer Segmentation Study for Meat and Meat Alternatives in Switzerland. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 10(6).

Brunner, T. A., & Nuttavuthisit, K. (2020). A consumer-oriented segmentation study on edible insects in Switzerland and Thailand. British Food Journal, 122(2), 482–488.

Delley, M., & Brunner, T. A. (2020). A segmentation of Swiss fluid milk consumers and suggestions for target product concepts. Journal of Dairy Science, 103(4), 3095–3106.

Götze, F., & Brunner, T. A. (2020). Sustainability and country-of-origin. British Food Journal, 122(1), 291–308.

Markoni, E., & Götze, F. (2020). Anspruch und Wirklichkeit bei der Umsetzung eines nachhaltigen städtischen Ernährungssystems: Eine empirische Vorstudie der Berner Ernährungsinitiativen. In A. Brokow-Loga & F. Eckardt (Eds.), Postwachstumsstadt: Konturen einer solidarischen Stadtpolitik (pp. 256–272). oekom.

Mielmann, A., & Brunner, T. A. (2019). Consumers’ snack choices: current factors contributing to obesity. British Food Journal, 121(2), 347–358.

Brunner, T. A., Casetti, L., Haueter, P., Müller, P., Nydegger, A., & Spalinger, J. (2018). Nutrient intake of Swiss toddlers. European Journal of Nutrition, 57(7), 2489–2499.

Brunner, T. A., Delley, M., & Denkel, C. (2018). Consumers’ attitudes and change of attitude toward 3D-printed food. Food Quality and Preference, 68, 389–396.

Delley, M., & Brunner, T. A. (2018). Household food waste quantification: comparison of two methods. British Food Journal, 120(7), 1504–1515.

Schlup, Y., & Brunner, T. (2018). Prospects for insects as food in Switzerland: A tobit regression. Food Quality and Preference, 64, 37–46.

Team

Contact

Are you interested in working with us, or would you like to know more about our research activities in the field of consumer behaviour? Please get in touch.