While consumers often intend to shop more sustainably, food shopping decision-making is complex, involving a decision-making process that is shaped by factors occurring outside of the moment of purchase. Consumers are increasingly being targeted with information aiming to influence their decision-making, but the change mechanisms of such interventions are poorly understood.  

This study aimed to identify key factors influencing people’s capability, opportunity, and motivation to make more environmentally sustainable choices when food shopping, and how information can support such behaviour change. Using the COM-B model of behaviour change, we conducted a consumer survey and qualitative interviews with Swedish consumers to identify how capability, opportunity, and motivation to engage in sustainable shopping are influenced, and how consumers use information when food shopping.  

From our data we mapped a typical customer journey and pinpointed where information could be applied as a technique for supporting behaviour change towards more sustainable food shopping choices. 

The key factors motivating the choice were found to be quality, health, locally produced food, animal welfare and convenience. The main constraints to consumers’ capability and opportunity to engage in sustainable food shopping were price and time.  

Our findings suggest that information can be a powerful behaviour change technique if tailored to customers’ full shopping journey, including planning, executing, and reflecting on their food shopping. Understanding food shopping as a set of interacting behaviours playing out over time could help to design more effective information-based behaviour change interventions. 

Read more about the CANDIES project here.