Consumers’ promotional buying decisions around healthy food: An application of the Theory of Planned Behaviour

Christopher McLaughlin, Sinead Furey, Lynsey Hollywood, Una McMahon-Beattie, Amy Burns, Ruth K. Price, Paul Humphreys, Moira Dean, Monique Raats, Mary McCarthy, Alan Collins, Mimi Tatlow-Golden, Celine Murrin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Purpose: Recent evidence has reported that within Ireland two in three adults have been identified as either overweight or obese. Eating behaviours has been shown to have an important influence on not only weight but also health. Thus what consumers buy is important as it relates to what they eat. However, with economic and financial pressures, consumers increasingly rely on promotional food offers when grocery shopping. Understanding what encourages consumers to buy healthier foods on promotion requires an understanding of what influences their decision making. This is an under-explored area of the literature: previous research has focused on consumers’ food type choice (healthy or less healthy) while little research has focused on what predicts promotional food decisions generally. The aim of this research is to explore the main drivers of consumers’ intentions around buying foods on promotional offer and their healthy food choices using the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB). Methods: A quantitative survey approach using the TPB was employed for this research. Each of the antecedents of intentions and behaviours were contained within the survey along with additional factors: impulsivity and health consciousness. An opportunistic sampling approach was undertaken (N=308). Statistical analyses were conducted using SPSS and AMOS. Results/findings: Overall, the results indicated that the TPB provide a good explanation in understanding the role of attitudes, subjective-norm, perceived behavioural control in predicting consumers’ buying decisions around promotional food offers. Additionally, both intentions and perceived behavioural control displayed a unique role in understanding consumers’ promotional food choices and food types (healthy and less healthy). Innovatively both the factors of impulsivity and health consciousness were tested within the TPB in order to further expand its predictive utility. Conclusions: The main finding from this research is that the TPB is a valuable tool to employ as it provides a parsimonious approach to understand the buying decisions of consumers, and how this predicts the healthfulness or otherwise of their food choices. Additionally, the findings of this study provide evidence to inform and construct health marketing interventions; these interventions would be able to target not only consumers but also health professionals and educators.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherInternational Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Number of pages1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Feb 2017
EventThe International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA) - Victoria, BC, Canada
Duration: 22 Feb 2017 → …


ConferenceThe International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA)
Period22/02/17 → …


  • Consumer decisions
  • buying intentions
  • promotional foods
  • healthy foods
  • Theory of Planned Behavior


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