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Title: Food access, selection and acquisition issues affecting older consumers (60+) in Northern Ireland
Author: Meneely, Lisa
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 5601
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2010
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The aim of this study was to examine the food access, selection and acquisition issues affecting consumers aged over sixty years living in Northern Ireland. People of pensionable age make up 16.3% of the total Northern Ireland population and by 2040 the proportion of people aged 60+ will have doubled (Age Concern, 2007). Therefore this is a significant consumer segment and one worthy of study and scrutiny. Older people in Northern Ireland are considered disadvantaged in terms of food related provision and their behaviour and experiences warrant particular attention. Diversity within the older population must be taken into account; there is a lack of informative data on the over 60 age group and a tendency to treat all persons who have reached this age milestone as one homogeneous group (Wait and Harding, 2006). Due to the changing nature of consumer behaviour, current research results are necessary as one cannot rely on past experiences of older consumers to determine the behaviour of present and future generations (Carrigan, 1998). "Older consumers of tomorrow will be different from their counterparts today" (BCSC, 2006, p7). To date, the food related behaviour of older consumers in Northern Ireland has not received significant attention and their behaviour has not been extensively documented. This is a timely study with relevance to an increasing consumer segment that represents a major customer base for food retailers. Capitalising on this market through recognising and meeting the needs of older customers will lead to large rewards for food retailers and result in a more satisfying shopping experience for consumers themselves. It will also serve to inform local food and retail policy which must take into account the needs, wants and abilities of all consumer groups. A pragmatic research approach was taken to data collection with a combination of both qualitative and quantitative techniques employed. Qualitative focus group discussions were carried out with older consumers (n=4) and semi-structured interviews undertaken with food retail managers (n=6). These were then followed by a large-scale quantitative consumer questionnaire (n=791). The results reveal that older people face a range of issues when accessing, selecting and acquiring food and their behaviour and satisfaction is influenced by individual consumer characteristics. Greatest difficulty is experienced once in-store where the physical retail environment was found not to accommodate older consumers. From the retailer interviews it was found that store management recognise the importance of older shoppers and are aware of the issues they face. However, there is a mismatch in perceptions between the retailer viewpoint on current provision and that of the consumer, and considerable scope for retailers to improve their retail offering and better serve the older population. It is also evident that older consumers are a heterogeneous population group with differences in behaviour and experiences shaped by a range of lifestyle characteristics. A number of recommendations have been proposed which would overcome the difficulties currently experienced by aged consumers and strengthen retail provision.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available