Consumer Imagery and Southern US foods: A Preliminary Study
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure
This study addresses the consumer’s image of stereotypical Southern foods in the Southern United States (US), as well as their level of consumption, and sheds light on the trade-off that many consumers continue to make favouring taste over health when it comes to consumption. Data were collected in a South-eastern US town via direct questionnaire distribution; 500 questionnaires were distributed and 233 usable responses obtained. The findings indicate that the high calorie content or the ‘unhealthy’ nature of the foods, but at the same time the ‘tasty’ element are images consistently identified in respondents’ comments. Thus, there appears to be an obvious recognition of the unhealthy aspect of stereotypical Southern cuisine in favour of indulgence, and to fulfil images of tasty ‘comfort’ foods. However, given the many possible variations of Southern foods and dishes, including healthier alternatives, the findings have very important implications for the region’s food and beverage industry. In this regard, enhancing the image of these traditional foods or food cultures for instance could be very beneficial. Consumer education is therefore critical in assisting consumers in making more informed food choices. In this process, the role of different agencies and sectors (hospitality and tourism) in designing and executing food-education related strategies, including the promotion of the local cuisine could be invaluable.