Fisher, Hennie, Gerrie du Rand, & Alet Erasmus (2012, July). The power of food images to communicate important information to consumers. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 36(4), 440-450. (doi: 10.1111/j.1470-6431.2011.01068.x)

Abstract: This paper reports on an investigative study of food magazine readers’ responses when examining food images matched with aesthetic indicators. Findings could guide food stylists in compiling food images to better communicate intended messages. The Q-sort method applied in this study is a reliable psychometric technique that involves the use of photographs, often in non–food-related contexts such as architecture and the travel industry. In this novel application in a foods context, six food images, matched with six aesthetic indicators, were Q-sorted by a predetermined sample of the readership of two of South Africa’s most eminent food magazines. The data was factor analysed, from which seven factors emerged. Findings confirmed that Q-sort, employing food images, could be a useful research approach for non-verbal communication settings where the technical and artistic messaging of food stylists needs to be clarified to appropriately manipulate the assembly of food image content in order to communicate specific information to consumers. It is proposed that food stylists could purposely create images that could communicate on a non-verbal level with consumers to ultimately change behavioural intent and eventual purchasing behaviour. This report deals with the implementation of Q-methodology within food image research and consumers’ responses to food images as part of a larger exploratory study that also investigated subsequent behavioural intent. Further investigation may expand the theoretic base upon which food stylists could pursue ways to alter consumer’s behavioural intent.

Hennie Fisher <hennie.fisher> is in the Department of Consumer Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

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