So far both qualitative focus group interviews in Spain and Belgium as well as a major cross-cultural survey have been carried out in five European countries: The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Denmark and Poland. The survey was conducted in collaboration with project 2.3 SEA-INFOCOM, and thus covered additional aspects of relevance to this project as well.
Based on the extensive data pool covering responses from a total of 4,786 consumers, a number of analyses have been carried out in 2006 providing interesting results about consumer habits and attitudes in relation to fish and seafood. The results indicated that, in all five countries, habit (e.g. past seafood consumption) predicted attitude, subjective norm, and perceived control far better than these could in turn predict intention and behaviour. Apparently, these variables mainly reflect different facets of consumer satisfaction with the outcomes of past enactments of the behaviour of consuming seafood. The relative dominance of habitual and deliberative factors varied between countries: the standardised total effect of habit on behaviour was 0.41 in Belgium, 0.17 in Denmark, 0.29 in Spain, 0.21 in the Netherlands, and 0.21 in Poland whilst the standardised total effect of intention on behaviour was 0.14 in Belgium, 0.53 in Denmark, 0.48 in Spain, 0.02 in the Netherlands, and 0.34 in Poland. It can be concluded that no general answer exists to the question if habitual or deliberative factors are more important in seafood consumer behaviour: their relative dominance appears to depend on the centrality of a given type of meal to the regional food culture.
Furthermore the issue of convenience has been analysed in depth, and the result suggests that convenience orientation can be crucial for seafood choice and consumption, but can only be properly understood when the mediating processes are explored. The link between convenience orientation and the (more specific) perceived inconvenience of products is important because it suggests that more general, value-like constructs might be the basis from which more specific beliefs and attitudes are formed. In that respect, one should consider the importance of convenience orientation even though it is only indirectly related to consumption. The fact that people perceive fish as inconvenient is a challenge for the fishing industry, indicating a clear need to develop more convenient products, educate consumers about where to buy and how to prepare fish in convenient forms, and change some consumers’ beliefs and attitudes about fish as an inconvenient product. Also, this study shows that some consumers in all countries perceive fish as convenient, probably because of their knowledge of and experience with fish.
Finally, in relation to the issue of family seafood decision making several analysis have been undertakten. The results found are in good agreement with the earlier findings in the literature concerning a relatively higher influence of older children in family consumption decision making. We found that, for the total sample, respondents from households with children <7 years reported perceiving a significantly lower negative influence of these children on their fish consumption than those with children of other age groups, while respondents from households with teenaged children reported perceiving a significantly higher negative influence of these children on their fish consumption than those without teenagers. Moreover, these results were at least partially confirmed at the country sub-sample level, namely for those countries – Belgium, Denmark and Spain – for which a significant negative association between the frequency of fish consumption and the perceived influence of children on fish consumption, as well as significant children’s age effects on different measures of respondents’ fish consumption were found. The hypothesis that children’s age may act as a mediator between the perceived influence of children in fish consumption and the actual family’s consumption thus constitutes a warranted proposition at this point.