Does social proof and herd behaviour drive food choices of consumers?

T Begho*, Shuainan Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
126 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Purpose
People often look to the opinions and actions of others to guide their food choices, especially when they are uncertain or unfamiliar with a particular food. This influence can be positive or negative depending on the context and can have an impact on food consumption and health outcomes.
Design/methodology/approach
The paper analysed data from 500 young adult consumers in China and employed a multi-study design to examine various aspects of social proof and herd behaviour in food choices. Experiment 1 examined the influence of testimonials from an influential person on buying decisions and eating behaviour. Experiment 2 explored whether herd behaviour drives food options. Experiment 3 assessed the influence of social proof on food choices. Chi-square tests of independence were conducted to examine the relationship between social proof and food choice, as well as herd behaviour and food decision-making. Several logit regression analyses were performed to identify the factors that drive consumers' susceptibility to social proof and herding.
Findings
The results indicated that the source of feedback, whether from an influential person or a family member, did not have a statistically significant effect on the likelihood of following the food guide recommendations. The preference for a healthier food option was stronger than following the herd. In contrast, social proof in the form of reviews and ratings influenced participants' choices. The paper highlights the usefulness for stakeholders and policymakers seeking to promote healthier eating habits.
Originality
The originality lies in its comprehensive approach, combining multiple experiments and analytical methods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1050-1064
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Food Journal
Volume126
Issue number3
Early online date24 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - 14 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • Food influencer
  • feedback
  • review
  • ratings
  • food choice
  • Food choice
  • Feedback
  • Review
  • Ratings

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