Report for Influencing Factors of Student's Food Choices

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Factors of students’ food choices

Focus group

Our focus group is made up of eight people; two of us are moderator and assistant moderator, and the rest are six participants. Participants are all UG students from university of surrey, and their majors are business management. Three of participants are female, and the others are male. Five Chinese participants are 21 years old, and one American participant is 30 years old.

From our research, we find that there are two primary elements can affect people’s food choice when they shopping for food. One is price, and another one is taste. As participant 2 (21, male, Chinese) said “Between quality and price, I will choose price”, and participant 5 (21, male, Chinese) also stated “I will buy food produced by Tesco, because the price is acceptable, especially for international students”. It can be supported by French (2003), who reveals that price can be a useful method to affect people’s food options, and Price reductions can strongly influencing the buying patterns of targeted foods. When people want to try a new product, price is still a major factor to be considered. Participant 4 (21, female, Chinese) had the same opinion that “If the product is expensive before, but now it has discounts, I will change to buy it”. For taste, participant 4 (21, female, Chinese) claimed that “I will choose the taste, because I’m used to Chinese food that have different flavor with local ones.” Moreover, participant 6 (30, male, American) insist this point too, he said “taste and price are very important. Sometimes the foods are very cheap, but if the taste is bad, I won’t choose it”. There are little literatures supporting this point in recent years, but from the observation of Stewart and Tinsley (1995), they indicated that taste and other sensory elements are the most significant factors that affect young adults’ food choices.

Furthermore, there are other factors affect students’ food choices. First is culture difference. All of our participants are international students, so they need to adapt to the British food and seek for their own traditional food. As participant 3 (21, female, Chinese) said “In Britain, traditional Chinese foods are very expensive, so I will choose English foods and I have to adapt to the tastes of local foods”, and participant 2 (21, male, Chinese) hold the same opinion that “Before I come here, I hate eating burgers, but now, I enjoy it”. The study of Sobal (Sobal cited in Shepherd and Raats, 2006, p15) also noted this opinion, “Cultural and sub-cultural norms establish which foods are acceptable and preferable for consumption among larger cultures and ethnic groups within cultures, and individuals consider those ideals in food selection”. Second are social factors, like families and friends’ advices. From participant 1(21, female, Chinese) “I will take the advice if my friends or families tell me there are some good foods products, and I will go to the shop to find those products”. As well as participant 5(21, male, Chinese), “I will take some other’s advice…”. Similarly, as Shepherd and Raats (2006, p16) pointed out that social factors can help to construct consumption relations and food choice. Third is advertisement and package. Participant 6 (30, male, American) said “Again, advertisement is important”. As Participant 4 stated “Package. You know, the package could give me a basic impression of the food product if I never try it before”. However, these two factors are not as important as others.

In conclusion, findings of focus group show that price and taste have great effect on students’ food choices when shopping for food, and culture difference and social relationships also influence people’s food selection. However, the effect of advertisement and package are not very obvious.


There are two interviewees in the face-to-face interview, and they are two 21-year-old girls, who come from China. Both of them are UG...
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