Exploring consumer preferences for hedonic and utilitarian food attributes

Natalia Maehle, Nina Iversen, Leif Hem, Cornelia C Otnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to identify the relative importance of four main attributes of food products for consumer’s choice. These are price, taste, environmental friendliness and healthfulness, tested across hedonic and utilitarian food products (milk and ice-cream). The weighting of attributes involved in food choices is a complex phenomenon, as consumers must consider contradictory requirements when making their choices. Consumers’ decision-making processes might also be influenced by food category. Some food products are mostly consumed for pleasure, whereas others are consumed because of their nutritional value. Design/methodology/approach – The study employs a choice-based conjoint technique, which addresses how consumers make trade-offs across a set of product attributes. Findings – The results indicate that price and taste attributes are rated as the most important for both hedonic and utilitarian food products. However, when the authors group consumers according to their product preferences, the relative importance of product attributes changes. Specifically, the importance of environmental friendliness and healthfulness is much higher among the health-conscious and environmentally conscious segments than for other segments. Originality/value – To the knowledge, this is the first study comparing the importance of this combination of product attributes (price, taste, calorie content and eco-label) across hedonic and utilitarian foods in a choice-based conjoint setting. Moreover, a new way of grouping consumers according to their ethical-value profiles enables the authors to create a psychographic description of these segments, and to relate it to their food attribute preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3039-3063
Number of pages25
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 7 2015


  • Conjoint analysis
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Consumer choice
  • Consumer purchasing decisions
  • Food consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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