Journal of Food and Nutrition Research
ISSN (Print): 2333-1119 ISSN (Online): 2333-1240 Website: Editor-in-chief: Prabhat Kumar Mandal
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Journal of Food and Nutrition Research. 2019, 7(9), 679-687
DOI: 10.12691/jfnr-7-9-10
Open AccessArticle

Conceptualizing Healthy Food: How Consumer’s Values Influence the Perceived Healthiness of a Food Product

Javier Liñán1, Pilar Arroyo2 and Lorena Carrete3,

1EGADE Business School PhD Program, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico

2,3EGADE Business School, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico

32,3EGADE Business School, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico

Pub. Date: September 28, 2019

Cite this paper:
Javier Liñán, Pilar Arroyo and Lorena Carrete. Conceptualizing Healthy Food: How Consumer’s Values Influence the Perceived Healthiness of a Food Product. Journal of Food and Nutrition Research. 2019; 7(9):679-687. doi: 10.12691/jfnr-7-9-10


The healthy lifestyle trend represents an opportunity to food manufacturers to redesign their marketing strategy for healthy food products. The prevalent strategy of posting nutritional information may not be effective because consumers use general heuristic cues to infer how healthy is a product. The purpose of this study is to extend the comprehension of the healthy food concept from a consumer perspective by assuming values are the basis to conceptualize healthy food. A qualitative approach was applied to collect in-depth information from a group of consumers with different demographic profiles and health motivations. The qualitative information is analyzed using as reference the food consumption value framework. The results of the thematic analysis indicate consumer’s conceptualization of healthy food is elusive, imprecise and intuitive. Product and process values are utilitarian values consumers use to assess how healthy is food. However, the physical setting and more intangible values such as the feeling of taking care of oneself also influence healthy food preferences. Based on these findings, a definition of “healthy food” based on four food values is proposed. This consumer-based definition of “healthy food”, in addition to the conventional product-based definition, may be used by governmental health institutions and food manufacturers to persuade individuals to make healthier food choices by using more emotionally evocative and cognitively effortless food-related communication regarding the healthfulness of food products.

healthy food food marketing healthiness perceptions food consumption values food industry Mexico

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