Healthful grocery shopping. Perceptions and barriers

Lynsey Hollywood, Geraldine Cuskelly, Michelle O’Brien, Aine McConnon, Julie Barnett, Monique Raats, Moira Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


While there is evidence of the factors influencing the healthfulness of consumers’ food choice, little is known about how consumers perceive the healthfulness of their shopping. This study aimed to explore consumers’ perceptions of, and identify barriers to, conducting a healthful shop. Using a qualitative approach, consisting of an accompanied shop and post-shop telephone interview, 50 grocery shoppers were recruited. Results showed that consumers used three criteria to identify a healthful shop: (1) inclusion of healthful foods; (2) avoidance or restriction of particular foods; and (3) achieving a balance between healthful and unhealthful foods. Those who take a balanced approach employ a more holistic approach to their diet while those who avoid or include specific foods may be setting criteria to purchase only certain types of food. The effectiveness of any of these strategies in improving healthfulness is still unclear and requires further investigation. Two barriers to healthful shopping were: (i) lack of self-efficacy in choosing, preparing and cooking healthful foods and (ii) conflicting needs when satisfying self and others. This highlights the need for interventions targeted at building key food skills and for manufacturers to make healthful choices more appealing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-126
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 4 Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Ailawadi, K. L., & Neslin, S. A. (1998). The effect of promotion on consumption. Buying
more and consuming it faster. Journal of Marketing Research, 35, 390–398.
Arnold, M. J., & Reynolds, K. E. (2003). Hedonic shopping motivations. Journal of
Retailing, 79, 77–95.
Aylott, R., & Mitchell, V. W. (1999). An exploratory study of grocery shopping
stressors. British Food Journal, 101, 683–700.
Bava, C. M., Jaeger, S. R., & Park, J. (2008). Constraints upon food provisioning
practices in ‘busy’ women’s lives. Trade-offs which demand convenience.
Appetite, 50, 486–498.
Beneke, W. M., Davis, C. H., & Vandertuig, J. G. (1988). Effects of a behavioral weightloss
program on food purchases. Instructions to shop with a list. International
Journal of Obesity, 12, 335–342.
Block, L. G., & Morwitz, V. G. (1999). Shopping lists as an external memory aid for
grocery shopping. Influences on list writing and list fulfillment. Journal of
Consumer Psychology, 8(4), 343–375.
Boyatzis, R. (1998). Transforming qualitative information. Thematic analysis and code
development. Thousand Oaks, Calfornia: Sage Publications.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative
Research in Psychology, 3, 77–101.
Brown, K. A., Timotijevic, L., Barnett, J., Shepherd, R., Lahteenmaki, L., & Raats, M. M.
(2011). A review of consumer awareness, understanding and use of food-based
dietary guidelines. British Journal of Nutrition, 106, 15–26.
Brug, J. (2008). Determinants of healthy eating. Motivation, abilities and
environmental opportunities. Family Practice, 25, I50–I55.
Bucher, T., van der Horst, K., & Siegrist, M. (2013). Fruit for dessert. How people
compose healthier meals. Appetite, 60, 74–80.
Carels, R. A., Konrad, K., & Harper, J. (2007). Individual differences in food
perceptions and calorie estimation. An examination of dieting status, weight,
and gender. Appetite, 49, 450–458.
Chandon, P., & Wansink, B. (2002). When are stockpiled products consumed faster?
A convenience-salience framework of postpurchase consumption incidence and
quantity. Journal of Marketing Research, 39, 321–335.
Crabtree, B., & Miller, W. (1999). A template approach to text analysis. Developing
and using codebooks. In B. Crabtree & W. Miller (Eds.), Doing qualitative
research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Department of Health and Children (2005). Health promotion unit food pyramid.
<> (downloaded
June, 2012).
Dholakia, R. R. (1999). Going shopping. Key determinants of shopping behaviours
and motivations. International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management,
27(4), 154–165.
Dube, L., & Cantin, I. (2000). Promoting health or promoting pleasure? A
contingency approach to the effect of informational and emotional appeals on
food liking and consumption. Appetite, 35, 251–262.
Falk, L. W., Sobal, J., Bisogni, C. A., Connors, M., & Devine, C. M. (2001). Managing
healthy eating. Definitions, classifications, and strategies. Health Education and
Behavior, 28, 425–439.
Fereday, J., & Cochrane-Muir, E. (2006). Demonstrating rigor using thematic
analysis. A hybrid approach of inductive and deductive coding and theme
development. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5, 80–92.
Food Standards Agency (2007). Food standards agency eatwell plate. <http://>, (downloaded June,
Ford, G. T., Hastak, M., Mitra, A., & Ringold, D. J. (1996). Can consumers interpret
nutrition information in the presence of a health claim? A laboratory
investigation. Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 15, 16–27.
Glanz, K., Basil, M., Maibach, E., Goldberg, J., & Snyder, D. (1998). Why Americans eat
what they do. Taste, nutrition, cost, convenience, and weight control concerns
as influences on food consumption. Journal of the American Dietetic Association,
98(10), 1118–1126.
Glanz, K., & Mullis, R. M. (1988). Environmental interventions to promote healthy
eating. A review of models, programs, and evidence. Health Education Quarterly,
15, 395–415.
Gough, B., & Conner, M. T. (2006). Barriers to healthy eating amongst men. A
qualitative analysis. Social Science and Medicine, 62, 387–395.
Greenwood, D. C., Ransley, J. K., Gilthorpe, M. S., & Cade, J. E. (2006). Use of itemized
till receipts to adjust for correlated dietary measurement error. American Journal
of Epidemiology, 164, 1012–1018.
Grunert, K. G., & Will, J. M. (2007). A review of European research on consumer
response to nutrition information on food labels. Journal of Public Health, 15,
Gustafson, A. A., Sharkey, J., Samuel-Hodge, C. D., Jones-Smith, J., Folds, M. C.,
Jianwen Cai, J., et al. (2011). Perceived and objective measures of the food store
environment and the association with weight and diet among low-income
women in North Carolina. Public Health Nutrition, 14(6), 1032–1038.
Hawkes, C. (2008). Dietary implications of supermarket development. A global
perspective. Development Policy Review, 26, 657–692.
Holliday, D. (2010). Analysing qualitative data. In B. Paltridge & A. Phkiti (Eds.),
Continiuum companion to research methods in applied linguistics. Australia:
Hui, S. K., Bradlow, E. T., & Fader, P. S. (2009). Testing behavioral hypotheses using
an integrated model of grocery store shopping path and purchase behavior.
Journal of Consumer Research, 36(October), 478–493.
Inglis, V., Ball, K., & Crawford, D. (2009). Does modifying the household food budget
predict changes in the healthfulness of purchasing choices among low- and
high-income women? Appetite, 52, 273–279.
Iyer, E. S., & Ahlawat, S. S. (1987). Deviations from a shopping plan. When and why
do consumers not buy items as planned. Advances in Consumer Research, 14,
Jamal, A., Davies, F., Chudry, F., & Al-Marri, M. (2006). Profiling customers. A study of
Quatari consumers shopping motivations. Journal of Retailing and Consumer
Services, 1(13), 67–80.
Jayawardhena, C., Wright, L. T., & Dennis, C. (2007). Consumers online. Intentions,
orientations and segmentation. International Journal of Retail and Distribution
Management, 35(6), 515–526.
Jetter, K. M., & Cassady, D. L. (2006). The availability and cost of healthier food
alternatives. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 30, 38–44.
Kearney, J. M., & McElhone, S. (1999). Perceived barriers in trying to eat healthier.
Results of a pan-eu consumer attitudinal survey. British Journal of Nutrition,
81(Suppl 2), S133–137.
Khan, U., & Dhar, R. (2006). Licensing effect in consumer choice. Journal of Marketing
Research, 43, 259–266.
Kozup, J. C., Creyer, E. H., & Burton, S. (2003). Making healthful food choices. The
influence of health claims and nutrition information on consumers’ evaluations
of packaged food products and restaurant menu items. Journal of Marketing,
67(2), 19–34.
Lang, T., & Caraher, M. (2001). Is there a culinary skills transition? Data and debate
from the UK about changes in cooking culture. Journal of HEIA, 8, 1–14.
Laran, J. (2010). Goal management in sequential choices. Consumer choices for
others are more indulgent than personal choices. Journal of Consumer Research,
37(2), 304–314.
Lobstein, T., & Davies, S. (2009). Defining and labelling ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’
food. Public Health Nutrition, 12, 331–340.
Meiselman, H. L., & MacFie, H. J. H. (1996). Food choice, acceptance and consumption.
London: Chapman & Hall, Springer.
Mela, D. J. (1999). Food choice and intake. The human factor. Proceedings of the
Nutrition Society, 58, 513–521.
Noble, G., Stead, M., Jones, S., McDermott, L., & Mcvie, D. (2007). The paradoxical
food buying behaviour of parents. Insights from the uk and australia. British
Food Journal, 109, 387–398.
Ozier, A. D., Kendrick, O. W., Leeper, J. D., Knol, L. L., Perko, M., & Burnham, J. (2008).
Overweight and obesity are associated with emotion- and stress-related eating
as measured by the eating and appraisal due to emotions and stress
questionnaire. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108, 49–56.
Provencher, V., Polivy, J., & Herman, C. P. (2009). Perceived healthiness of food. If it’s
healthy, you can eat more! Appetite, 52, 340–344.
Putrevu, S., & Ratchford, B. T. (1997). A model of search behavior with an application
to grocery shopping. Journal of Retailing, 73, 463–486.
Ransley, J. K., Donnelly, J. K., Botham, H., Khara, T. N., Greenwood, D. C., & Cade, J. E.
(2003). Use of supermarket receipts to estimate energy and fat content of food
purchased by lean and overweight families. Appetite, 41, 141–148.
Ransley, J. K., Donnelly, J. K., Khara, T. N., Botham, H., Arnot, H., Greenwood, D. C.,
et al. (2001). The use of supermarket till receipts to determine the fat and
energy intake in a UK population. Public Health Nutrition, 4, 1279–1286.
Rice, P., & Ezzy, D. (1999). Qualitative research methods. A health focus. Melbourne:
Oxford University Press.
Rigby, P. M., & Tommis, Y. (2008). Improving food purchasing choices through
increased understanding of food labels, using itemized till receipts to measure
these changes. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 21, 401.
Rohm, A. J., & Swaminathan, V. (2004). A typology of online shoppers based on
shopping motivations. Journal of Business Research, 57, 748–757.
Roininen, K., Lahteenmaki, L., & Tuorila, H. (1999). Quantification of consumer
attitudes to health and hedonic characteristics of foods. Appetite, 33, 71–88.
Scheibehenne, B., Miesler, L., & Todd, P. M. (2007). Fast and frugal food choices.
Uncovering individual decision heuristics. Appetite, 49, 578–589.
Scholderer, J., Brunso, K., Bredahl, L., & Grunert, K. G. (2004). Cross-cultural validity
of the food-related lifestyles instrument (FRL) within Western Europe. Appetite,
42, 197–211.
Shepherd, R. (1999). Social determinants of food choice. Proceedings of the Nutrition
Society, 58, 807–811.
Steptoe, A., Pollard, T. M., & Wardle, J. (1995). Development of a measure of the
motives underlying the selection of food. The food choice questionnaire.
Appetite, 25, 267–284.
Sun, Y. H. (2008). Health concern, food choice motives, and attitudes toward healthy
eating. The mediating role of food choice motives. Appetite, 51, 42–49.
Thompson, C., Cummins, S., Brown, T., & Kyle, R. (2013). Understanding interactions
with the food environment. An exploration of supermarket food shopping
routines in deprived neighbourhoods. Health and Place, 19, 116–123.
Tin, S. T., Mhurchu, C. N., & Bullen, C. (2007). Supermarket sales data. Feasibility and
applicability in population food and nutrition monitoring. Nutrition Review, 65,
Turrell, G., Hewitt, B., Patterson, C., Oldenburg, B., & Gould, T. (2002). Socioeconomic
differences in food purchasing behaviour and suggested implications for dietrelated
health promotion. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 15, 355–364.
Wardle, J., Haase, A. M., Steptoe, A., Nillapun, M., Jonwutiwes, K., & Bellisle, F. (2004).
Gender differences in food choice. The contribution of health beliefs and
dieting. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 27, 107–116.
Wiggins, S. (2004). Good for ‘you’. Generic and individual healthy eating advice in
family mealtimes. Journal of Health Psychology, 9, 535–548.
Williams, P. (2005). Consumer understanding and use of health claims for foods.
Nutrition Review, 63, 256–264.
Worsley, A., Wang, W. C., & Hunter, W. (2010). Baby boomers’ food shopping habits.
Relationships with demographics and personal values. Appetite, 55, 466–472.
Wrieden, W. L., Anderson, A. S., Longbottom, P. J., Valentine, K., Stead, M., Caraher,
M., et al. (2007). The impact of a community-based food skills intervention on
cooking confidence, food preparation methods and dietary choices. An
exploratory trial. Public Health Nutrition, 10, 203–211.
Yoo, S., Baranowski, T., Missaghian, M., Baranowski, J., Cullen, K., Fisher, J. O., et al.
(2006). Food-purchasing patterns for home. A grocery store-intercept survey.
Public Health Nutrition, 9, 384–393.
Youn, S., & Faber, R. J. (2000). Impulse buying. Its relation to personality traits and
cues. Advances in Consumer Research, 27(27), 179–185.
Young, L., & Swinburn, B. (2002). Impact of the pick the tick food information
programme on the salt content of food in new Zealand. Health Promotion
International, 17, 13–19.
Yu-Hua, C. S. (2008). Health concern, food choice motives, and attitudes toward
healthy eating. The mediating role of food choice motives. Appetite, 51(1),


Dive into the research topics of 'Healthful grocery shopping. Perceptions and barriers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this