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Action-related information trumps system information: Influencing consumers’ intention to reduce food waste

In order to substantially reduce food waste at the household level, it is essential to change consumer behavior. Informing consumers about the food waste issue is a promising means of bringing about behavior change: research confirms that information can increase food waste reduction behavior. However, it has yet to be determined what kind of information is most effective and exactly how that information affects consumer food waste behavior. A recent study by Prof. Dr. Jutta Roosen  and Christina Neubig from the Chair of Marketing and Consumer Research at TUM School of Management shows, that action-related information on food waste significantly increases consumers’ intention to reduce food waste, while system-related information does not significantly influence this intention.

As previous research had yet not determined which kind of information is most effective in affecting consumer food waste behavior, researchers set out to compare the effects of system- vs. action-related information on behavioral intention towards food waste in the study “Action-related information trumps system information: Influencing consumers’ intention to reduce food waste”. System-related information is knowing what impacts specific actions entail, e.g. the annual CO2 emissions of household food waste in Europe. Action-related information is defined as knowing how specific actions can help to accomplish a goal, e.g. knowing the optimal temperature of the fridge to keep food fresh for the longest time. That is, the study focuses on the effect of information on the role of food waste in the food system versus information of actions that can be taken to avoid it. Moreover, an adapted model of the Theory of Planned Behavior is used to assess how these information effects are mediated by consumers’ attitude, norms, and perceived behavioral control.

Results from an online experiment show that action-related information significantly increases respondents’ intention to reduce food waste while system information has no significant effect. The change in behavioral intention in the action-related information group is ascribed to greater personal norm activation, more favorable attitudes towards food waste reduction, and higher perceived behavioral control of food waste behaviors. Even though system information does not significantly increase intention to reduce food waste, it results in more favorable attitudes towards food waste reduction.

These findings provide insights for policy makers and NGOs on what type of information to consider when designing effective food waste reduction campaigns targeted at consumers, with action-related information supporting the opportunity for consumer behavior change.

Prof. Dr. Jutta Roosen’s research focuses on questions of consumers’ perception, in particular regarding food products, and analyses consequences for food markets. Her research allows for conclusions regarding marketing and an efficient consumer policy.

The post Action-related information trumps system information: Influencing consumers’ intention to reduce food waste appeared first on Technical University of Munich – School of Management.

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