Attitudes and behaviour of consumers to meat in Palmerston North, New Zealand, 1979-1985 : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Product Development at Massey University
Consumer attitudes and behaviour towards meat products were studied as a basis for meat product development. Meat consumer studies have traditionally taken two distinctive approaches. Economists have tended to use demand analysis, concentrating on the effects of price, income, and family structure on the consumption of 'beef' or 'lamb' or other aggregated commodity. Market researchers have tended to concentrate on consumer requirements and attitudes, frequently ignoring price and income. The present study examined meat consumer behaviour from both perspectives and made a detailed study of some of the techniques using 15 meats and 41 meat cuts. In consumer preferences, the use of a Semi-structured Linear Scale with the most-preferred and least-preferred meats anchored at either end of the scale and the remaining meats arranged along the scale at distances that reflected the consumers' preferences was equally effective at determining interval scale distances between meats as the traditional methods of measuring preferences, the Thurstone Case V Interval Scale. Also for Multidimensional Scaling, substitutability measurements were the most appropriate data measurements as the resulting solutions were stable, whilst the preference solutions tended to degenerate into unidimensional solutions. The study also showed that less predictable solutions resulted from MDS if substitutability measurements were made on meat cuts rather than at a species level. Fenker's and Krusdal et al.'s methods produced very similar ideal point solutions which were slightly different to solutions from a newly-developed method. The latter had the advantage of being able to identify the dimension most sensitive to changes in preference and to indicate whether an ideal point or vector model was the most appropriate method of determining new product opportunities in an MDS space. Factor Analysis showed that it was possible to identify three main Factors underlying consumers' attitudes to meat in general. They included; a 'meat quality on buying' Factor; a 'meat quality on eating' Factor and a 'meat quality on cooking and serving' Factor. However, the study showed that the structure of the Factors changed depending on whether attitudes to meat in general, to specific cuts from each species of meat, or individual cuts of meat were being examined. The use of Q-Factor Analysis to categorise meats on the basis of consumer attitudes showed that it was possible to categorise meats into 9 Hypothetical Product groupings based on the consumers' attitudes to the products. The groupings were shown to be based on the similarity of the attitude profiles of the cuts, cuts with similar profiles being grouped in the same Hypothetical Product. Three quantitative regression models were developed for 41 meat cuts. The models showed that the situation was not quite as complex as other studies had indicated. Per capita consumption of meat was shown to depend on the price, preference and prestige ratings of a meat cut, i.e. a typical demand model. The model accounted for 61% of the variance in the dependent variable, substantially higher than other studies. Meat cut preference was shown to depend on the acceptability of the flavour, juiciness and presence of bone in the cut. The model typified a Fishbein/Rosenberg attitude model and accounted for 91% of the variance in the dependent variable. The proportion of households buying model accounted for over 93% of the variance in the dependent variable and typified a demand model. All the predictor variables in the model were consumer attitudes. The model indicated that the proportion of households that would purchase a cut was dependent on the tenderness, value for money and perceived price of a cut. The models indicated what had to be done to improve existing meat products and the areas that should be concentrated on for successful new meat product development.