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Ninya maubach

Thinking about shopping

The healthiest food choices are not always the easiest ones to make, says Dr Ninya Maubach (Department of Marketing).

Maubach is researching the strategies supermarket shoppers use to make decisions about which foods to buy.

“Specifically, I want to identify which sources of information shoppers look at most often, how the information is applied and assess whether this helps consumers form accurate impressions."

The project continues Maubach's PhD research, which investigated how alternative front-of-pack nutrition labels and claims about nutrients influenced choice behaviour.

“The food industry is fiercely protective of its ability to control the message consumers receive about foods. The industry has lobbied strongly against Multiple Traffic Light food labels all over the world, despite very good research evidence of its effectiveness.”

Her current project deals with “heuristic decision-making”, which is a strategy – or cognitive process – that ignores part of the information in order to make decisions more quickly, frugally, and/or accurately than more complex methods.

“We know from observational research that shoppers make decisions very quickly – typically within a few seconds of approaching a product display and usually without even picking up any packs to view the objective nutrition facts.”

Maubach will use a range of qualitative methods, including the use of Tobii mobile eye-tracking glasses.

“I'll recruit up to 50 participants, who'll wear these on a routine grocery shop. Afterwards, I'll use retrospective think-aloud interviews as participants watch their videos, to examine their thought processes.

“The second half of my project is about identifying insights from the eye-tracking research and testing potential new packaging interventions.”

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