Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 10 credits / 15 HE credits
Title: According to Swedish Citizens – Sweden has the Safest and Best food in the world – Really?
Level: Thesis for Master’s Degree in Business Administration
Authors: Benny Berggren and Mai Nasser Fouda
Supervisor: Jonas Kågström, Ph.D.
Date: May 20, 2013
Aim: The aim of this thesis is to fill the research gap on whether there are differences in how Swedish consumers remember publicized scandals in regards to the Country of Origin (COO), focusing on age, gender and time. Furthermore, this paper will also aim to look at how different scandals have affected the consumers trust based on whether foreign food scandals have a higher impact.
Methodology: Since this thesis tested different relationships a deductive approach was taken with a conclusive research design. Quantitative data was collected via a VAS-scale questionnaire to 187 individuals via random sampling at train stations which had a response rate of 75,9%. By using SPSS, the primary data was analyzed via a Correlation and Factor analysis in accordance with scientific articles from within the fields of Purchasing Decision theory, the COO and Consumer Memory. A semi-open telephone interview with an expert from within the food industry was conducted as additional explanations to the findings were needed.
Result & Conclusions: It was found that Swedish consumers remembered scandals differently depending on origin, and were according to themselves more affected by the foreign scandals. Gender did not have a preference depending on the COO of the product and consumer memory while age did. It was also found that trusting food was the essential theme throughout the empirical findings where the Swedish consumers valued cues such as food quality and food safety. This played a significant role on impacting the consumer’s long-term memory. Three different types of trust was found and divided by their characteristics; High-level-involvement products, the COO of the product or the company which the scandal was involved with, and finally, the size, positioning and equity of the brand involved.
Business implications: Media can be seen as a key source of spreading negative publicity regarding scandals. It is therefore extra important for companies to act immediately, especially if they have any of the three characteristics of trust since it influences the consumer’s long-term memory in a negative way. These three characteristics combined could have strong more negative impact on the companies, where there is a risk of losing potential & current business partners, decreased brand equity & image and risk of facing legal aspects. This can be very costly both financially and time-wise which ultimately could lead to a negative turnover.
Research Implications: future research is suggested to study why the results in this thesis differ from the other scientific findings when it comes to gender. Also suggested is that studies should be conducted similar to this, but based on specific types of food products since this thesis only studied food in general. Furthermore, studies comparing the effect of the consumer memory in regards to food scandals based on different companies are also suggested.
Key words: Country of Origin, Scandals, Memory, Trust, Purchasing behavior.
2013. , 138 p.