Differences in consumer perspectives how sustainable food consumption is perceived and signalled in the prevailing consumer culture : among Generation Y
This thesis investigates Generation Y sustainable food consumers in the prevailing consumer culture and their differences in signalling and perceiving sustainability. The reasons why they engaged to a sustainable diet and the possible conflicts around it were also studied. Relevant contexts around consumer culture, possessions, identities and Generation Y regarding sustainable food consumption were presented as the theoretical framework. The focus was on Generation Y consumers in order to recognize relevant the contexts that influence their behaviour in the marketplace. Qualitative research methods were utilized as the data was gathered through nine in-depth interviews furthermore applied thematic analysis (ATA) and typologies were used in the data analysis. It was recognized that there were three different groups with different perception of sustainability affecting on food choices and signalling. The perception of sustainability and food choice was influenced by friends, family and spouses however the influence of powerful information source such as documentary films, books and university courses were mentioned important as well. Interviewees reflected experiences throughout their life that were experienced as relevant regarding sustainable food consumption. However the stage of maturity was witnessed as the most important step towards more sustainable dietary choices. Due to the different influences and perceptions about sustainable foods there were differences how willingly they would discuss about sustainability and food with others as for some food was more sensitive topic than for others. With most of the groups (2/3) sustainability transcends to other consumption choices as well. Sustainable food consumption included a powerful symbolic function regarding identity if the recipient was able to receive the preferred message. Sustainable food choices were detected producing mental and physical pleasure. The characteristics that pleasure and hedonism in consumption are important contexts for Generation Y (Purhonen et al. 2008:290) were witnessed.
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