Food Choice: the Shopping Experience of Older Consumers in Scotland
Hare, C. (2001) Food Choice: the Shopping Experience of Older Consumers in Scotland, no. 456.
This thesis investigates the food shopping experience of older consumers (aged 65+) in Scotland. The aim was to develop the shopping dimension of food choice research and broaden the understanding of older consumers within this context. The need for such a study is borne out of the political impetus on food choice research, with the older age segment being particularly important due to: increasing numbers of older people; their vulnerability in terms of nutrition; the changes in food shopping that they have experienced in their lifetime; and their potential for being disadvantaged consumers. The growing numbers of older people present a number of challenges within the food choice discipline. The food retail sector, which is highly competitive, is faced with meeting the needs of a growing market segment which it has previously neglected. There have been efforts by governments to integrate the food retailing sector into the policy for improving the dietary health of the nation. However, these recommendations have been limited and the specific issues for older people in terms of food shopping not fully described. This thesis provides four major findings which provide an original contribution to knowledge. The first is that the characteristics of the older consumer result in a diverse shopping activity. This is reflected in the diversity of their personal circumstances, their preferences and their shopping activity. Secondly, the disadvantage experienced by older consumers is more complex than previously recognised. Thirdly, a comprehensive framework for investigating the shopping dimension of food choice research has been developed, and specifically applied to older consumers. Finally, there is a lack of inter-dependence and integration both between sectors influencing food choice and across the disciplines investigating it, and this must be addressed. There are several implications of these findings. First, academic research in the field of food choice should seek to undertake more multidisciplinary research and the conceptual model provides a framework from which to develop future studies. Secondly, specific recommendations can be made for retailers, both at a store level and concerning their contribution to the wider shopping environment. Thirdly, the findings are a catalyst for debate on the extent to which policy-makers should seek to integrate members of a multidisciplinary team in more detailed planning of recommendations.