Multidisciplinarity, triangulation of qualitative and quantitative methods, in-depth interview and focus groups with policy makers and businesses, surveys and experiments with young consumers
SUSCHOICE activities are articulated by four stages.
First, we will analyse the influence of macro and structural factors by performing the analysis of relevant public policy documents and media discourse, and conducting in-depth individual interviews with policy makers and stakeholders. The influence of macro and structural factors will also be addressed in the consumer interviews and online consumer survey later in the project.
Then, we will organize focus group interviews in each country to identify main drivers and barriers of sustainable food and drink choices among consumers. The results of the interviews will provide valuable insights for developing a transnational survey in each participating country (stratified random sampling to address different gender, education, income and age groups, and various geographical locations). We will use the data from the survey to perform analysis of food and drink choices and model consumer behaviours.
Based on all the collected data, we will develop scenarios evaluating future trends in sustainable food and drink consumption.
At the end of the project, we will interview businesses and policy makers about their existing strategies and test various public policy and marketing strategies in the series of online experiments with consumers. As a result, we will come up with recommendations on how businesses and public authorities can promote sustainable food and drink consumption among young adults across different European countries.
The project activities will be organized in six work packages (WPs) (see Figure). Four of them (WP2, WP3, WP4 and WP5) include research activities, while WP1 and WP6 are devoted to Administration and Management and Communication and Dissemination, respectively.
WP2 “Analysis of macro and structural factors”: it is devoted to the identification of drivers and barriers of sustainable food and drink choice with regard to the institutional and socio-cultural context within which consumers elaborate food and drink choices.
- Analysis of public policy documents and media discourse. This activity includes analysis of the public policy documents describing policies and laws related to food and drink, sustainable practices and youth, and analysis of the media discourse on the topic of sustainable food and drink consumption. Document analysis involves skimming (superficial examination), reading (thorough examination), and interpretation. This iterative process combines elements of content analysis and thematic analysis. Through content analysis, we organize information into categories related to the centralquestions of our research (e.g., sustainable food, food and drink choices). Then we perform the thematic analysis by recognizing a form of pattern within the data, with emerging themes becoming the categories for analysis. To grasp the meaning of the policy texts, the documents are analysed through the methodology of Critical Frame Analysis (Verloo, 2007; Lombardo et al., 2009) enabling researchers to make the interpretative and normative content of policy documents more explicit. Critical Frame Analysis allow the study mapping the different ways in which an issue is framed, through the analysis and comparison of policy frames and inconsistencies among and within frames in policy documents. In other words, this methodology makes explicit the diverse interpretations of sustainable food and drink concept by the different political actors in the European context. The study focuses on the analysis of the elements of policy frames, on an assessment of the diversity in problem interpretation and in the solutions given to those problems. Selected texts are chosen among policy texts – such as plans, programs, reports, and legal texts such as norms, laws, etc.–, and parliamentary debates and political texts, such as political parties’ electoral programs. Mass media articles are also used in the analysis when they are available and they express a clear position regarding the issue to be studied. Media discourse analysis are especially valuable in evaluating the macro factor of food culture.
- In-depth individual interviews with policy makers and stakeholders to discuss the effects of macro and structural factors. The following topics are addressed during the interviews: political regulations in regard to food and drink in general and sustainable food and drink in particular (especially aimed at young adult consumers), existing national labelling system for sustainable food and drink, public strategies encouraging sustainable consumption, measures to increase accessibility of sustainable food and drink, and existing infrastructure for sustainable food and drink distribution.
WP3 “Food and drink choice analysis”: it is devoted to the identification of drivers and barriers of sustainable food and drink choice) with regard to the investigation of consumers’ choices.
- Focus group interviews with young adult consumers.
- Online surveys among young adult consumers.
The following issues are addressed: young adults’ food and drink habits and routines, food and drink preferences, sustainable consumer choices, awareness of sustainable food alternatives, attitude towards sustainable food and drink, intention to buy sustainable food and drink, motivations and barriers to buying sustainable food and drink (as identified in the focus groups interviews), macro and structural factors influencing food and drink choices (e.g., culture, infrastructure, accessibility of sustainable food and drink alternatives, labelling systems, policy regulations), trust in sustainable food claims and labels. Consumers’ choices of four designed products (fruit, cheese, beer and soft drinks) are analysed by using discrete choice experiments.
WP4 “Future trends”: it is devoted to the identification of future trends.
- Evaluations of future trends based on data collected in WP2 and WP3. This activity includes environmental scanning, consumer cultural contextualisation and scenario planning. It aims to widen the understanding of why the results look the way they do in each national/regional/European context, from a perspective that takes varying cultures of consumption into consideration.
- Development of alternative scenarios (i.e. a description of a possible future situation, including paths of development, which may lead to that future situation). The aim is to generate orientation regarding future developments through an observation of certain relevant key factors and clarify possible consequences of present developments and decisions. They therefore can serve as a compass for lines of action in the present. The multidisciplinarity of the research teams (i.e. combination of marketing, consumer sociology and psychology, public and environmental economics, innovation, entrepreneurship, regional policy, and rural economics) secures a comprehensive understanding of various key factors influencing sustainable food and drink consumption, and in this way, increase the validity of the developed scenarios.
- Focus group interviews with young adult consumers. They are used as confirmatory tools to validate the future trends analysis. During the interviews, the researchers discuss the future trends and scenarios identified in the previous step and get consumers’ opinions on whether they perceive these scenarios as realistic.
WP5 “Identifying strategies”: it is devoted to evaluating of institutional and business strategies for promoting sustainable consumption
- In-depth interviews with businesses and policy makers. The purpose of the interviews is to get feedback on the scenarios identified in WP4 and decide which strategies will be tested during the second stage of WP5 (i.e. experiments). The following topics are discussed during the interviews: the existing strategies used to promote sustainable food and drink consumption among young adults, future trends and scenarios identified in WP4 and possible future strategies.
- Experiments with young adult consumers testing various strategies aimed to promote sustainable food and drink consumption. The purpose of the experiments is to test the effectiveness of different public policy and marketing strategies. The researchers will develop various stimuli representing the selected strategies (e.g. advertising claims, sustainable labels, new information on sustainable foods, infrastructural changes, etc.). The young adult consumers’ attitudes, purchasing intentions and willingness to pay for sustainable food and drink will be measured and compared before and after the exposure to the stimuli. As a result, the strategical recommendations for companies and public authorities will be developed in each country and across European countries.