An application of Protection Motivation Theory to assess public acceptance and willingness to pay towards personalized food nutrition
Obesity and related diseases such as type two diabetes, cardio vascular diseases, cholesterol, cancer etc. affect negatively the health and the socioeconomic welfare of all New Zealanders. Care for obese patients have financial and practical implications, including risks to patients and health professionals, the need for special equipment and training, and prolonged rehabilitation. In addition, obese individuals displace other people in need of treatment. The increasing number of New Zealanders exposed to these diseases is raising public concern among scientists, stakeholders and politicians. One of the solutions to counteract obesity and related diseases could come from the application of new technology and personalised food nutrition. As a result, this study aims at exploring public acceptance of nutrigenomics and personalised nutrition in New Zealand. The public acceptance towards the introduction of new technology will be assessed by estimating the willingness to pay for a nutrigenomics test. Furthermore, consumers’ willingness to follow personalised food recommendations deriving from the nutrigenomics test was evaluated exploring by preferences and willingness to pay for a diet containing a bundle of functional foods. Since socio-economic and demographic characteristics of consumers are losing their explanatory power, protection motivation theory was employed to explore the impact of psychological constructs on willingness to pay for nutrigenomics and personalised food nutrition. The objective was reached using both qualitative and quantitative research methods. As regards to qualitative research, four consumer focus groups interviews were conducted between June and September 2009 to obtain insights about concern for diet related diseases, factors influencing healthy food choice and public acceptance of nutrigenomics test and personalised nutrition based on a bundle of functional foods. Focus group results show that participants were mainly concerned about heart and cardiovascular diseases, whereas obesity was not perceived as a disease. Foods containing high levels of sugar and saturated fats were identified as being responsible for people unhealthy weight. The main constrains behind healthy food choices appeared to be time and price. Information in food labels was often too hard to understand. In addition, participants were unfamiliar with the concepts of nutrigenomics and functional foods but not with the consumption of the latter products. These inputs were used to develop a contingent valuation survey, which was administered by means of a questionnaire between January and March 2010. Survey results showed that that nearly 75% of respondents were willing to accept the introduction of the new technology but they were suspicious about the way in which information will be used by society. The expected mean of willingness to pay for the nutrigenomics test was NZ$409.49 and that for personalised nutrition based on a regular consumption of a bundle of functional foods was NZ$52.84 a week. Estimates show that socio-economic and demographic characteristics of respondents influence willingness to pay for the nutrigenomics test and personalised nutrition. However, in both models, the introduction of psychological constructs developed using protection motivation theory and health related variables improve the goodness of fit especially for willingness to pay for the nutrigenomics test. These findings are useful both for policy makers who can think about the possibility and risks of introducing new technology in New Zealand as well for the marketers who can develop marketing strategies to target personalised functional foods to specific market segments.
Advisor: Nocella, Giuseppe
Degree Name: Master of Consumer and Applied Sciences
Degree Discipline: Food Science
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Nutrigenomics, functional foods, personalized food nutrition, public acceptance, Protection Motivation Theory, willingness to pay, focus group interviews, survey, New Zealand
Research Type: Thesis