Public Health Nutrition

Public policies

Consumer food choices: the role of price and pricing strategies

Ingrid HM Steenhuisa1 c1, Wilma E Waterlandera1 and Anika de Mula1

a1 Department of Health Sciences and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Objective To study differences in the role of price and value in food choice between low-income and higher-income consumers and to study the perception of consumers about pricing strategies that are of relevance during grocery shopping.

Design A cross-sectional study was conducted using structured, written questionnaires. Food choice motives as well as price perceptions and opinion on pricing strategies were measured.

Setting The study was carried out in point-of-purchase settings, i.e. supermarkets, fast-food restaurants and sports canteens.

Subjects Adults (n 159) visiting a point-of-purchase setting were included.

Results Price is an important factor in food choice, especially for low-income consumers. Low-income consumers were significantly more conscious of value and price than higher-income consumers. The most attractive strategies, according to the consumers, were discounting healthy food more often and applying a lower VAT (Value Added Tax) rate on healthy food. Low-income consumers differ in their preferences for pricing strategies.

Conclusions Since price is more important for low-income consumers we recommend mainly focusing on their preferences and needs.

(Received July 28 2010)

(Accepted June 03 2011)

(Online publication July 14 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Email