A 2019 survey on consumer attitudes to nutrition and food revealed that 74% of Americans rely on quality and freshness before anything else. Have you ever considered what primary factor influences your food choice? Given that diet, survival and nutrition are significant determinants informing your decision to eat, there are more factors out there. Here are a few other choices that exist and are considered crucial.
- Economic factors
Logically, the price of food is a significant influencer in whether consumers will get it or not. Indeed, cost (cheap or expensive) is a subjective issue but still cuts across all divides. The low-income population tends to opt for inexpensive foods. However, a majority of these happen to be junk food and without enough nutritional value. For this group, feeling satisfied is what matters most.
With that said, access to more money usually does not equate to healthier meals. It however gives the consumer a more comprehensive range of food choices. This is where accessibility comes in. The convenience of fast food, especially when it’s within proximity to work or home, becomes a factor. As unpalatable as this may sound, healthy foods tend to be pricier in the cities and urbanized areas, whilst it’s cheaper in the outskirts.
Food advertising is perhaps one of the most booming sectors worldwide. The psychology behind it employs the use of visual appeal. From the camera’s lens, the angle of steam from a freshly grilled steak, coupled with a glossy looking side dish oozing with mayonnaise, goes straight to your head and appeals to your senses. Advertisers know that by positively altering the appearance of food, your brain will interpret that as delicious, consequently influencing your food choices. That explains why you will be quick to opt for a meal you saw on TV, instead of another. Furthermore, the food industry is a competitive sector and leading operators will stop at nothing to outdo contenders in the same space.
It’s an open secret that your first influence on food almost always comes from your family. America is a melting pot of cultures and traditions, but people who find themselves in the country manage to maintain a bit of their culture and this is usually evident in their food choices. For example, whereas Americans and Australians are perceived as meat lovers; Arab cuisine does more vegetables. Therefore, even in the US, Arabs will be more inclined towards vegetable-based cuisines than meat.
In another breath, if you come from a family that celebrates Friday nights with Pepperoni pizza, your first instinct will be to eat that when there’s something to celebrate. However, as a child matures into the teenage years, the influence from friends’ choices may also play a role.
So, the next time you find yourself grocery shopping or at a restaurant, take a moment to evaluate why you’re choosing a particular meal. Is it because you saw it on television? Does your family love it? Or is it what you can afford at that moment?