Shoppers’ insights from trade fare perspective

buying behaviour resized

The international trade fairs InterMopro (dairy products), InterCool (frozen food, ice cream and equipment) and InterMeat (fresh meat and cold processed meat) 2012, taking place in Düsseldorf from 23-25 September 2012, aren’t just relying on general trend reports, but have decided to be proactive. Together with the German food magazine Lebensmittelzeitung, Messe Düsseldorf asked Rheingold, a qualitative market research company, to conduct a psychoanalytical study of customer behaviour.

The purpose of the study was to provide an indepth psychoanalysis of customers’ buying behaviour in three segments: fresh meat, cold processed meat (also referred to as ‘sausages’ in Germany) and cheese.

Psychologically, fresh meat is a highly controversial and existential product category under the motto, as it were, ‘eat and be eaten’. This is why the purchase of fresh meat always involves a certain ambivalence between the lust of the flesh and a feeling of frustration about it. Human beings have a deep feeling of unease in their subconscious minds about killing animals in order to consume meat. When dealing with meat, (psychological) hygiene and refinement play a decisive role – in both senses. At the same time, however, consumers want to cover their backs and ease their consciences. This means that fresh meat needs to be presented in a ‘psychologically palatable’ manner.

Cold processed meat is experienced as important and invigorating staple food. It embodies a certain earthiness and banal ordinariness, and is frequently associated with childhood experiences. It often bears references to specific regions or the customer’s home area. Processed cold meat products are ready to eat, and unlike fresh meat, they are less reminiscent of their animal origins, thus allowing immediate and direct satisfaction of one’s ‘lust of the flesh’.

On the one hand, processed cold meat is perceived as rather ordinary. On the other hand, it’s worth noting that when customers buy such meat at the service counter, there’s more sales interaction than with fresh meat – there’re noticeable squabbles to prove one’s competence, efforts to control the situation and attempts to strike special bargains, as if each deal were a matter of now or never.

Cheese is alive. Psychologically, it’s perceived as a living creature. Unlike other products, the focus isn’t so much on freshness, but on maturity: mild, mature and extra-mature cheese. According to the study, the level of maturity in cheese is also reflected in the consumer’s self-perception. The more a person is happy to see liveliness, maturity and diversity of transformational options in cheese, the more they feel ‘grown-up’, ‘mature’ and ‘refined’. In all, the cheese segment stands for pleasure and sensuality. It’s experienced as exciting and varied.

The study will be presented to the public for the first time at InterMopro, InterCool and InterMeat.