Measuring Meaning of Food in Life

  • Klaus G. GrunertEmail author
Living reference work entry


This chapter introduces the means-end approach to the analysis of the meaning that food has to people. Food has meaning for people because of the goals that they attach to food and eating, and research shows that these goals are many and diverse, extending far beyond the basic goal of nutrition and survival. The means-end approach can be used to analyze the meaning that people attach to a particular food product or the meaning that people attach to food in general. For the former, the laddering interview technique is usually used, and results are presented in so-called hierarchical value maps, and several examples are presented. For the latter, food-related lifestyle is a survey instrument that maps the role that food has for people in attaining life values. The main use of this instrument has been for segmentation, and a number of generic segments are presented that emerge from numerous studies that have used this instrument. The chapter closes with perspectives for future work in measuring the meaning of food in life.


  1. Arsil, P., Tey, Y. S., Brindal, M., Phua, C. U., & Liana, D. (2018). Personal values underlying halal food consumption: Evidence from Indonesia and Malaysia. British Food Journal, 120, 2524–2538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aurifeille, J.-M., & Valette-Florence, P. (1995). Determination of the dominant means-end chain: A constrained clustering approach. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 12, 267–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bech-Larsen, T. (2001). Model-based development and testing of advertising messages: A comparative study of two campaign proposals based on the MECCAS model and a conventional approach. International Journal of Advertising, 20, 499–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bech-Larsen, T., & Nielsen, N. A. (1999). A comparison of five elicitation techniques for elicitation of attributes of low involvement products. Journal of Economic Psychology, 20, 315–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bell, R., & Marshall, D. W. (2003). The construct of food involvement in behavioral research: Scale development and validation. Appetite, 40, 235–244.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brunsø, K. (1997). Fødevarerelateret livsstil: Udvikling af et måleinstrument til markedsovervågning af forbrugere for fødevareindustrien. Doctoral dissertation, Aarhus School of Business, MAPP Centre.Google Scholar
  7. Brunsø, K., & Grunert, K. G. (1998). Cross-cultural similarities and differences in shopping for food. Journal of Business Research, 42, 145–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brunsø, K., Scholderer, J., & Grunert, K. G. (2004). Closing the gap between values and behavior – A means-end theory of lifestyle. Journal of Business Research, 57, 665–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bruwer, J., & Li, E. (2017). Domain-specific market segmentation using a latent class mixture modelling approach and wine-related lifestyle (WRL) algorithm. European Journal of Marketing, 51, 1552–1576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buckley, M., Cowan, C., & McCarthy, M. (2007). The convenience food market in Great Britain: Convenience food lifestyle (CFL) segments. Appetite, 49, 600–617.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chiu, C. M. (2005). Applying means-end chain theory to eliciting system requirements and understanding users perceptual orientations. Information & Management, 42, 455–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chrysochou, P., Askegaard, S., Grunert, K. G., & Kristensen, D. B. (2010). Social discourses of healthy eating. A market segmentation approach. Appetite, 55, 288–297.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Costa, A. D. A., Dekker, M., & Jongen, W. M. F. (2004). An overview of means-end theory: Potential application in consumer-oriented food product design. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 15, 403–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De Ferran, F., & Grunert, K. G. (2007). French fair trade coffee buyers’ purchasing motives: An exploratory study using means-end chains analysis. Food Quality and Preference, 18, 218–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grunert, K. G. (2010). Means-end chains – A means to which end? Marketing Journal of Research and Management, 32, 41–46.Google Scholar
  16. Grunert, K. G. (2019). International segmentation in the food domain: Issues and approaches. Food Research International, 115, 311–318.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grunert, K. G., & Grunert, S. C. (1995). Measuring subjective meaning structures by the laddering method: Theoretical considerations and methodological problems. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 12, 209–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grunert, K. G., & Valli, C. (2001). Designer-made meat and dairy products: Consumer-led product development. Livestock Production Science, 72, 83–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grunert, K. G., Larsen, H. H., Madsen, T. K., & Baadsgaard, A. (1995). Market orientation in food and agriculture. Boston: Springer.Google Scholar
  20. Grunert, K. G., Brunsø, K., Bredahl, L., & Bech, A. C. (2001). Food-related lifestyle: A segmentation approach to European food consumers. In Food, people and society (pp. 211–230). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Grunert, K. G., Perrea, T., Zhou, Y., Huang, G., Sørensen, B. T., & Krystallis, A. (2011). Is food-related lifestyle (FRL) able to reveal food consumption patterns in non-Western cultural environments? Its adaptation and application in urban China. Appetite, 56, 357–367.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gutman, J. (1982). A means-end chain model based on consumer categorization processes. Journal of Marketing, 46(2), 60–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hansen, G. L., Videbæk, J. N., & Bech-Larsen, T. (2018). Kvalitetsindeks 2018: Fokus på udespisning. DCA report. Aarhus: Aarhus University.Google Scholar
  24. Hill, C. W. (1997). International business: Competing in the global market place. Chicago: Irwin.Google Scholar
  25. Hinkle, D. (1965). The change of personal constructs from the viewpoint of a theory of implications. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Ohio State University.Google Scholar
  26. Hofstede, G. (1991). Cultures and organizations. Intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival. Software of the mind. London: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  27. Jeng, M. Y., & Yeh, T. M. (2016). The effect of consumer values on the brand position of green restaurants by means-end chain and laddering interviews. Service Business, 10, 223–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kaciak, E., & Cullen, C. W. (2006). Analysis of means-end chain data in marketing research. Journal of Targeting, Measurement and Analysis for Marketing, 15, 12–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kelly, G. A. (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  30. Lundgren, B. A., & Lic, T. (2010). Customers’ perspectives on a residential development using the laddering method. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 25, 37–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mintz, S. W., & Du Bois, C. M. (2002). The anthropology of food and eating. Annual Review of Anthropology, 31, 99–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nielsen, N. A., Bech-Larsen, T., & Grunert, K. G. (1998). Consumer purchase motives and product perceptions: A laddering study on vegetable oil in three countries. Food Quality and Preference, 9, 455–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nijmeijer, M., Worsley, A., & Astill, B. (2004). An exploration of the relationships between food lifestyle and vegetable consumption. British Food Journal, 106, 520–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Poulain, J. P. (2017). The sociology of food: Eating and the place of food in society. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  35. Reid, M., Li, E., Bruwer, J., & Grunert, K. (2001). Food-related lifestyles in a cross-cultural context: Comparing Australia with Singapore, Britain, France and Denmark. Journal of Food Products Marketing, 7(4), 57–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Reynolds, T. J., & Craddock, A. B. (1988). The application of the MECCAS model to the development and assessment of advertising strategy: A case study. Journal of Advertising Research, 28(2), 43–54.Google Scholar
  37. Reynolds, T. J., & Gutman, J. (1988). Laddering theory, method, analysis, and interpretation. Journal of Advertising Research, 28(1), 11–31.Google Scholar
  38. Reynolds, T. J., & Olson, J. C. (Eds.). (2001). Understanding consumer decision making: The means-end approach to marketing and advertising strategy. Mahwag, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  39. Rokeach, M. (1973). The nature of human values. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  40. Scholderer, J., Brunsø, K., Bredahl, L., & Grunert, K. G. (2004). Cross-cultural validity of the food-related lifestyles instrument (FRL) within Western Europe. Appetite, 42, 197–211.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schösler, H., De Boer, J., & Boersema, J. J. (2012). Can we cut out the meat of the dish? Constructing consumer-oriented pathways towards meat substitution. Appetite, 58, 39–47.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schwartz, S. H. (1994). Beyond individualism/collectivism: New cultural dimensions of values. In U. Kim, H. C. Triandis, Ç. Kâğitçibaşi, S.-C. Choi, & G. Yoon (Eds.), Individualism and collectivism: Theory, method, and applications (Cross-cultural research and methodology series) (Vol. 18, pp. 85–119). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.Google Scholar
  43. Schwartz, S. H., & Bilsky, W. (1987). Toward a universal psychological structure of human values. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(3), 550–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schwartz, S. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: theory and empirical tests in 20 countries. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 25, 1–65.Google Scholar
  45. Shepherd, R., & Raats, M. (Eds.). (2006). The psychology of food choice. Wallingford: CABI.Google Scholar
  46. Steenkamp, J.-B. E. M., & van Trijp, H. C. M. (1997). Attribute elicitation in marketing research: A comparison of three procedures. Marketing Letters, 8, 153–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ter Hofstede, F., Audenaert, A., Steenkamp, J. B. E., & Wedel, M. (1998). An investigation into the association pattern technique as a quantitative approach to measuring means-end chains. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 15, 37–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ter Hofstede, F., Steenkamp, J. B. E., & Wedel, M. (1999). International market segmentation based on consumer–product relations. Journal of Marketing Research, 36, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Thøgersen, J. (2017). Sustainable food consumption in the nexus between national context and private lifestyle: A multi-level study. Food Quality and Preference, 55, 16–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Valette-Florence, P. (1998). A causal analysis of means-end hierarchies in a cross-cultural context: Methodological refinements. Journal of Business Research, 42, 161–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vinson, D. E., Scott, J. E., & Lamont, L. M. (1977). The role of personal values in marketing and consumer behavior. Journal of Marketing, 41(2), 44–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MAPP CentreAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

Personalised recommendations