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Consumer Studies and Market Research

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Our recently validated Foundation Degree in Food Manufacturing with Business Management has an exciting new module that I will be lead tutor on.

‘Consumer studies and market research in the food industry’, is a subject that is close to my heart, having worked in a number of fields within the manufacturing and retail sector. I have experienced the benefits of having a comprehensive knowledge of your industry market first-hand.

Small changes like altering meal size can have dramatic effects on sales.  Whilst working for Asda Walmart, I took the decision to change all Italian Ready Meals from a weight, which was neither a one nor two person serving, to a more robust and sizeable two person offer.  This was largely based on observations that I had done in store looking at who was shopping and analysing the frequency of purchase.  Overnight sales of Italian ready meals soared, and obviously efficiency of production did too – which was an added bonus to end margin.

The new module will introduce students to various concepts, including buyer behaviour, the influence of packaging, colour, importance of price points as well as effective quantitative research methodologies.  Consumer studies has a degree of psychology pertained within it, and the module will explore topics such as pester power, use of sense to drive sales, effect of lighting on mood, speed of shop etc.

Ultimately, for any student working or planning to work within the food industry, an understanding of what drives consumer purchase habits and how to optimise performance of brands is crucial to business success. This is a common thread through all operations, be it production, research and development, logistics and planning as well as technical.

I look forward to teaching what I am sure will be an exciting, thought provoking topic to all foundation degree students next year.

Toni-Anne Harrison