Fruitful engagement: Framing the value of imperfect produce through signage in retail services

Framing the value of imperfect produce through signage in retail services

Project dates: 2020 - 2022

This research aimed to understand how customer value propositions (CVPs) that frame the value of imperfect produce through retails signage affect customer engagement with imperfect produce and whether consumers’ value orientation moderates this relationship.

Why is this important?

Food waste is a global issue that has significant economic, environmental, and social consequences. Between 30% and 50% of all food produced is wasted throughout the supply chain (Jurgilevich et al., 2016). While there are many contributors to food waste, Australian supermarkets generated over 200,000 tonnes of food waste in 2016/17 (current baseline) (Arcadis, 2019). To address this waste, some retailers have started selling aesthetically ‘imperfect produce’ (Grewal et al., 2019), which is considered “produce that is unattractive but perfectly edible” (Mukherjee et al., 2021, p. 1061). While aesthetically imperfect fruit and vegetables are often sold by supermarkets to reduce food waste, many consumers are reluctant to purchase these products. Research highlights that retail signage can promote the purchase of imperfect produce; however, it is not known (1) how customer value propositions (CVPs) that frame the value of imperfect produce through retail signage affect customer engagement with imperfect produce and (2) whether consumers’ value orientation moderates this relationship.

What did we do?

In this study, the relationship between the four customer value propositions (Thrift, Innovation, Normalisation and Salvation) and customer engagement (positive and negative) as moderated by consumer value orientation was tested through a pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design. A pretest-posttest design involves obtaining a pretest measure of the outcome of interest prior to administering some treatment, followed by a posttest on the same measure after treatment occurs (Mendoza & Toothaker, 2006). The four CVPs were operationalised as servicescape signage and subsequently examined through a pilot test.

Data was collected for a pilot via an online survey hosted on Qualtrics through convenience sampling (n = 93). The pilot test measured the Thrift, Innovation, Normalisation and Salvation CVPs against each conditions using four scales.

What did we find out?

  • The results from this study showed that the Thrift CVP had no significant effect on positive customer engagement. This suggests that highlighting discount pricing or the value from financial savings does not improve customer engagement with imperfect produce.
  • In contrast, the Innovation and Normalisation CVPs significantly increased behavioural positive engagement and the Salvation condition increased all three dimensions of customer engagement, suggesting it is the most effective of the four CVPs. This suggests that highlighting the value of purchasing imperfect produce as a way in which to participate in environmentally conscious behaviour in retail signage is effective in increasing customers’ affective, behavioural and cognitive engagement with imperfect produce.
  • In addition, the results, which approached significance, show that participants who had a high egoistic value orientation when viewing the Thrift CVP or a high biospheric value orientation when viewing the Salvation condition both increased cognitive positive customer engagement after viewing the respective signage.

A manuscript from this study is currently being prepared for publication. To find out more, please visit Laura’s profile HERE

For more information, contact: laura.peacheyburgess@hdr.qut.edu.au 


Chief Investigators


BEST Conference 2022 Presentation:

“Fruitful Engagement: Framing the Value of Imperfect Produce”

Project Summary Poster:

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