The work undertaken so far in WP4 – “Consumers studies on software acceptance and food-market preferences” in the Stance4Health project has contributed exciting and actionable insights into consumer research in relation to personalized nutrition and health apps. These insights were used to design the empirical studies that are planned to be conducted later this year.
In Task 4.1. “To select consumer groups for the baseline consumer studies”, consumer groups that can potentially be interested in personalized nutrition solutions were identified using data from the European Social Survey. The groups varied mainly in terms of satisfaction with life and perceived general health. This task was completed and the results will be used in later tasks of WP4.
In Task 4.2. “To explore and characterize consumer mental models of personalised nutrition”, University of Bath completed a comprehensive literature review on consumer perceptions of personalized nutrition (PN), and the social science factors that play a role in determining uptake of PN services. The level of personalization, the level and type of benefits or risk mitigation, level of convenience, self-efficacy (with regards to the specific biological sampling techniques involved), and ethical issues surrounding use of personal data according to PN service format type, were some of the key aspects relevant in determining consumer perceptions and uptake. These insights were used to design an empirical study that will use qualitative focus groups with consumers in three countries (Spain, Germany, and the UK) to explore consumer understanding and perceptions related to personalized nutrition.
In Task 4.3. “To define those factors that influence long-term sustainability of healthy diets by consumers”, Aarhus University conducted a comprehensive literature review on factors with relevance in consumer responses towards apps that promote healthy behaviours, including engagement and use of apps. Some of the main factors relate to the consumer, the perceived user experience and the features of the apps. Main consumer related factors were people’s motivation, the anticipated effort in using the app or their self-efficacy. In terms of perceived user experience factors, interactivity, social support, ease of use, usefulness, enjoyment, compatibility between the needs of the user and the app were relevant. Whereas app features with potential to support engagement were self-regulation features such as feedback, push notifications and reminders, coaching by a real person or features that promote a simple experience with the app (e.g. food scanner). These insights are used in designing the empirical part of the study that is planned to consist of an online survey to explore consumer experiences with health apps as well as their adoption intentions of hypothetical personalized nutrition schemes.
In Task 4.4. “To study consumer willingness to adopt i-Diet”, factors that are relevant in consumer’s adoption of apps to promote healthy behaviours were identified. Providing feedback was one of the most commonly used features in health-related apps and it represents an effective behaviour change technique. Furthermore, gamification elements in apps were identified as promising in increasing engagement and supporting behaviour change. Different levels of such factors will be manipulated and tested in an experimental study. A preliminary version of the design elements to be varied in this study has been discussed in a Skype meeting with WP3 in November 2019. WP3 showed great interest in the proposed factors.
Tasks 4.6 “To unravel the effect of intersectionality on the adoption of personalised nutrition” has conducted preparatory work in the form of literature review.
Task 4.7 “To study the economic impact of the personalised nutrition service” has reviewed the literature and existing products on the market to identify which factors might influence consumers’ choice of personalized nutrition services delivered via a smartphone application. This work identified personalization, follow-up, workout routines, recipes, and price as factors which were likely to influence consumer choice. Based on these reviews, a pilot discrete choice experiment was undertaken with 40 members of the general public in order to test whether consumers might be willing to pay for these attributes. This pilot experiment found that “price”, “follow-up” and “personalization” were the attributes with higher weight, although there were no statistically significant differences between levels two and three of the “personalization” attribute. The “workout” attribute turned out to be less important while the “recipes” attribute was not significant. Qualitative feedback on the study design was also sought from participants. Based on these preliminary findings, it is planned to conduct a larger-scale willingness to pay experiment among members of the general public in Spain.
The partners in WP4 have met twice in 2019, once in Brussels in April 2019 and then in Bath in December 2019. The latest findings and next steps in the empirical work were discussed in the last meeting.