Demographics and beliefs of consumers indicating preference for healthy food or dietary supplements
Du Toit, Wilna Cornelia
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Healthy food and/or supplements may be used in the context of a healthy lifestyle or as a means to compensate for an unhealthy lifestyle. Consumers are increasingly taking charge of their health and manipulate food choices or use dietary supplement regimes. By analysing usage across segments, marketers can determine the optimum audience for any specific health and wellness product. Marketers can develop marketing plans to the common motives, beliefs and behaviours of the optimal target segment, and communicate with them through common sources of influence with meaningful messages that speak to their motivations. Healthcare professionals can mount high quality, targeted education and intervention programmes for consumers by getting to know their clients' beliefs. It is, therefore, important to identify healthy food and supplement use of South African consumers. Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine which demographic factors and other beliefs are associated with an individual's choice between the usage of supplements or the eating of healthy food. Subjects/Setting: A random sample of 1997 metropolitan consumers representative of the gender distribution, age distribution and population groups in South Africa was chosen. The data were weighted, so that they would be representative of the total South African metropolitan consumer population. Questionnaires consisting of 17 food related sections were designed by researchers in cooperation with business partners. One of the sections contained a number of statements about food, dietary supplements, health and disease. MARKINOR, a marketing research company, was contracted to collect the data. Consumers preferring healthy food were compared with supplement choosers with regard to demographic and belief factors. Explanatory variables included gender, age group, monthly income, race, living standard measure (LSM), education and children, as well as different eating habit and food related statements. Statistical analysis: The quantitative data produced by the survey were analysed by using the Statistica -programme in order to generate the relevant tabulations, descriptive statistics and statistical tests. Results: About 61% (n= 6 526) of the respondents reported healthy food preference, while 20% (n= 2 086) stated they preferred supplements. Especially males, people older than 50 years, individuals with a monthly income of R9 000 - R17 999, Indians, LSM 7 or 8 respondents, individuals with secondary schooling and people with no children indicated a preference for healthy food. These individuals indicated the belief that food is not only for enjoyment but also for health maintenance. The South African consumer preferring supplements included: females, 18 to 49 year olds, people with a monthly income of up to R2999, blacks, LSM 2, people with no or primary schooling and/or people with children. The main focus of dietary supplement choosers was the medicinal value of supplements and the enjoyment value of food. Applications/Conclusions: To our knowledge, this study was the first attempt to characterize the healthy food and supplement choosers in South Africa. Further research is needed to identify which supplements or healthy foods are used by South African consumers in order to ensure their health. It is recommended that a suitable scientific instrument be developed to this effect.
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