Consumer Perception of Milk and Dairy Products

The news in the press about the health effects of foods are increasing day by day and they affect both the consumer first and producer positively and negatively. In order to serve the society as an impartial and accurate source of news, Pınar Institute and Yaşar University Faculty of Communication carried out the project "Consumer Perception of Milk and Dairy Products: The Effects of False Information in the Media" within the scope of TÜBİTAK 3001 - R&D Projects Support Program. 

In this study, consumer perceptions of milk and dairy products were examined. Perceptions are one of the most important factors in the formation of consumers' opinions and therefore purchasing decisions. The measurement and management of these perceptions are vital for companies producing in the market. Today, consumer perceptions are mostly created through media. However, in the media, inaccurate information spreads frequently, about food in general and milk and dairy products in particular. In this study, consumer perception based on false information has been examined from different aspects.

Consumers often develop negative perceptions for milk and other dairy products, based on false information spread by media channels. False information spreading from the media is significantly effective in developing negative perceptions of consumers about food products. Such negative perceptions are of vital importance to the marketing policies of the food industry. This research studies what these perceptions are, how powerful they are, and how they are provided through the information presented by the media.

The data was collected in three sequential stages in the project. In the first stage, the media contents were analyzed and in accordance with the data obtained, qualitative data were obtained through focus groups in the second stage. In the third stage, field studies were carried out with question paper (questionnaire) based on the focus group results. In this process, 4 newspapers, 3 TV programs, internet resources were analyzed in the media analysis process, 3 focus group studies of 18 people were conducted and a questionnaire of 50 questions was applied to a total of 733 people.

The following findings were achieved in the overall evaluation of the project results;

  • The media significantly affects perceptions about milk and dairy products. The agenda in the media is the context in which the perception of these products occurs.
  • The direction and level of perceptions do not demonstrate great differences according to parameters such as gender, age, income and so on.
  • This can be explained by the effect of the media spreading the news and mainstreaming them and the homogenization effect of the general audience.
  • Television and the internet are the two most important media. Television is more effective for the elderly and the internet is more effective for young people.
  • Producers should make efforts to prevent information pollution, especially on the Internet, by producing or supporting accurate contents.
  • Due to the problem of source person in media in the formation of content about food, the education level of health editors and journalists and press professionals in terms of nutrient information should be increased to determine the standards.
  • In this context, companies should cooperate with professional organizations and public authorities.
  • New analyzes including semiological, semantic and discourse dimensions, and new research involving historical change should be conducted.
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