Natalia Maehle is currently employed as a postdoctoral student at the Institute for Research in Economics and Business Administration/Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen, Norway. Natalia holds a PhD in Marketing from Norwegian School of Economics. Her research interests include consumer behavior, eco-consumption, social media, and brand management.
She is a regular presenter at international conferences (EMAC, ACR, EACR, AMA) and has a number of publications in international journals including Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, Journal of Product & Brand Management, and International Journal of Market Research. Natalia is a member of Association of Consumer Research and European Marketing Academy. At her spare time she enjoys travelling, cooking and socializing with friends and family.At the moment Natalia is involved in a major research project devoted to eco-food consumption (i.e. green, healthy and ethical food consumption). She uses Sawtooth Software’s CBC module to study the relative importance of different product attributes for consumers’ food choice.
Food choice and consumption are complex phenomena. Consumers are moving away from “convenience consumption” (which main aim is to save time and effort) towards consumption that involves not only objective and tangible benefits, but also subjective, hedonic, or symbolic components.
There is a general trend that many consumers are switching towards more environmentally responsible products as they are becoming more aware of the impact of their purchasing and consumption behavior. The health concerns have also proved to play a key role in regard to food. For example, many studies show that interest in health is a primary motive for the purchase of organic food. However, these new trends often contradict traditional purchasing criteria such as price and taste. Eco-food is usually sold at premium price, despite the fact that many consumers do not want to pay a price premium for eco-alternatives. The growing gourmet trend makes taste a crucial aspect for consumers’ food choice, while there is evidence that less healthy products are perceived as better tasting.
Thus, consumers have to deal with many contradictory requirements and expectations while making their food choices. There is a growing need for a unified understanding of the role of these factors in the food choice situation.
In addition, the question is whether the decision-making process is influenced by the type of food products. Some food products are mostly consumed for pleasure (e.g. hedonic products such as chocolate or ice cream), whereas others are consumed because of their nutritional value (e.g. a utilitarian product such as milk). The previous research shows that consuming hedonic products leads to feeling of guilt and makes consumers to behave more altruistically. That can lead to the higher preference for environmentally friendly products, even if their price is higher, in order to compensate for the feeling of guilt. It has also been argued that consumers are less price-sensitive when they buy hedonic products.
To address these important issues, the current project has as its goal to identify the relative importance of several main attributes of food products (e.g. price, taste, environmental friendliness and healthiness) for consumers’ food choice. A choice-based conjoint analysis (Sawtooth Software’s CBC module) will be employed. As a result, we will find out which of these attributes are perceived by consumers as the most important in the food choice situation and whether these perceptions differ for different types of food products (i.e., hedonic and utilitarian). It is planned to conduct several studies with different food product categories and across different countries.
You can find more information about Natalia and her projects at: http://www.snf.no/Medarbeidere/Natalia-Mæhle.aspx#323