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Complementarity of implicit and explicit attitudes in predicting the purchase likelihood of visually sub-optimal or optimal apples

Bolos, L.A., Lagerkvist, C.J., Kulesz, M.M.
Food quality and preference 2019 v.75 pp. 87-96
apples, attitudes and opinions, consumer acceptance, decision making, foods, prediction, questionnaires
Consumers are faced with daily choices on what foods to buy and eat. Visual characteristics of foods evoke in consumers both positive and negative attitudes, depending on the level of visual optimality or sub-optimality. These attitudes also play a critical role in purchase decision making. In this study we examined the food decision-making process and the extent to which explicit and implicit measures of visual optimality can predict purchase likelihood. In an online study with 608 Swedish consumers, we performed an implicit association test and used a questionnaire to measure consumers’ explicit attitudes and purchase likelihood for optimal and sub-optimal apples. We also assessed the temporal stability of purchase likelihood in a re-test performed three weeks after the first test. The results showed that both explicit and implicit measures had predictive validity, but that the explicit measure was better in predicting when consumers would buy apples, while the implicit measure was better in predicting when consumers would reject apples. It was clear that consumers preferred visually optimal apples, but visually sub-optimal apples were not entirely rejected and the purchase likelihood remained stable throughout the experiment. We applied these results to draw up some recommendations on approaches to generate consumer acceptance and adoption of visually sub-optimal food products.