Purpose – In light of growing concerns around obesity, the present work investigates why consumers continue to choose traditional unhealthy fast food options over newly offered healthier fast food alternatives. Design/methodology/approach – A total of 24 value laddering interviews were conducted with people who had just purchased an item from the traditional menu at McDonalds. Individual reasoning for not selecting a healthier Weight Watchers' approved alternative was aggregated across the respondent set to form a summary map which pictorially displays barriers to healthier fast food choices. Findings – Consumers' choices not to purchase healthier fast food options were dominated by Self Direction type values and are heavily influenced by engrained perceptions that fast food is junk food. Practical implications – For the fast food industry, this research highlights that to help shift consumers' choices toward healthier alternatives, they need to reposition themselves as quick service restaurants that offer good tasting food that is both convenient and healthy. Social implications – For public policy makers, this research suggests a need to address the perceptions of personal relevance of obesity and diet related health issues. Originality/value – The valuable in‐depth information collected via the value laddering process offers substantial insights into the unexplored area of barriers to healthier fast food consumption.
British Food Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 28, 2014
Keywords: Values; Barriers; Health; Consumption; Fast‐food; Food‐choice
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