Functional foods provide a new way of expressing healthiness in food choices. The objective of this study was to apply an indirect measure to explore what kind of impressions people form of users of functional foods. Respondents (n=350) received one of eight versions of a shopping list and rated the buyer of the foods on 66 bipolar attributes on 7-point scales. The shopping lists had either healthy or neutral background items, conventional or functional target items and the buyer was described either as a 40-year-old woman or man. The attribute ratings revealed three factors: disciplined, innovative and gentle. Buyers with healthy background items were perceived as more disciplined than those having neutral items on the list, users of functional foods were rated as more disciplined than users of conventional target items only when the background list consisted of neutral items. Buyers of functional foods were regarded as more innovative and less gentle, but gender affected the ratings on gentle dimension. The impressions of functional food users clearly differ from those formed of users of conventional foods with a healthy image. The shopping list method performed well as an indirect method, but further studies are required to test its feasibility in measuring other food-related impressions.
- Functional foods