Trust in Food Labels – Can digital and transparent animal movement data increase trust in beef and dairy products?

From horse meat in lasagna to falsely declared ingredients, the food industry is increasingly losing consumer trust (Sander, Heim & Kohnle, 2016). In Germany alone, there were at least 68 food scandals in 2023 (PETA Deutschland e.V., 2023). Food labels serve as quality indicators (Splendid Research, 2023), but it is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to understand the quality characteristics behind them (Weiß, 2008). Therefore, it’s crucial to establish trust in labels as it significantly influences which products make their way into shopping baskets (Esch, Rühl & Baumgartl, 2016). Considering the food scandals and the plummeting trust in the food industry, the question arises of how trust among consumers can be restored and enhanced in both business-to-business and business-to-customer sectors.

The start-up Million Steps (https://www.millionsteps.earth/ger) also deals with the question of whether its new concept can have a trust-building effect on beef and dairy products. Million Steps addresses this issue by implementing an innovative and transparent tracking system for animal husbandry. The company precisely monitors and documents the movements of each animal to provide clear and traceable data along the entire supply chain. In this way, the start-up provides comprehensive insight into animal husbandry. The collected data is linked to the official ear tag of each animal and can be accessed by professionals in the food industry, restaurant visitors, and customers via QR codes. Among other things, this can prove that each animal has spent at least 12 months (the time it takes a cow to take a million steps) grazing on pasture and enjoying freedom of movement. Additionally, the origin of the animals is transparently verified by making background information about the animal and the farmer accessible.

Research goal

The study, conducted by Vanessa Fleig, a student of business psychology, examines the effect of digital and transparent animal movement data from the Million Steps label on the trustworthiness of beef and dairy products.

Research overview

Qualitative individual interviews were conducted with two groups to investigate the research question. The first group consists of restaurateurs who work in various areas such as restaurants, company restaurants and catering. The second group comprises gastronomy customers of different genders and ages in order to ensure the most heterogeneous group possible. A total of five interviews were conducted per group. The interviews are based on the laddering method in order to identify further motives that can influence trustworthiness. In addition, exemplary images were shown to illustrate the label in more detail.

Main findings

  • For a label to be generally perceived as trustworthy, the following aspects are most important: positive reputation, high level of awareness, simple traceability, comprehensible presentation of information.
  • The combination of small farms with the possibility of individual visits through personal contact with the farmers, as well as regular inspections and certifications on the integrity of the label also have a trust-enhancing effect.
  • Animal movement data is largely perceived as added value by both target groups due to the continuous but especially animal-specific monitoring of farmers, which represents a new and innovative approach.
  • Animal-specific data as well as the permanent monitoring of animals counteract the motive “lack of trust in the food industry” and increase consumer trust.
  • The transparent and open presentation of information (movement data, regionality, ) also leads to increased traceability, which can also increase trust.
  • An argument against an additional trust-increasing effect is that husbandry can also be checked without active tracking through personal contact with the In addition to pasture husbandry, other factors such as antibiotic use are also relevant in order to achieve a long-term trust-increasing effect.
  • Animal movement data, especially in combination with information on place of origin and regionality, has the potential to increase trust in beef and dairy products in the long

Implications

  • The target groups differ in terms of trust-enhancing
  • While tangible evidence, such as the possibility of visiting the farm, has a

trust-enhancing effect on restaurateurs, more superficial factors, such as a clearly designed website, an appropriate amount of information or easy and transparent traceability, are sufficient for gastronomy customers.

  • Animal movement data has a confidence-increasing effect especially when labels are generally relevant to purchases.
  • If labels are not considered separately when making purchases, animal movement data may be trustworthy, but does not increase trust in beef and dairy products, as factors other than labels are perceived as value-enhancing.
  • Independent reputations increase trust, but are not yet available for Million Steps
  • As a future recommendation, the label could, for example, be registered on the online platform “Label-online”, which offers consumers an independent, uniformly evaluated overview of labels.
  • Furthermore, the selection of cooperating farmers is based on certain selection Farms should be small and regional, with the possibility of personal cooperation and adaptation to the individual wishes of the restaurants.

Conclusion

The study made it clear that digital and transparent animal movement data are predominantly perceived as added value and trustworthy. This assumption applies in particular to people who generally pay attention to labels, as animal movement data results in an additional increase in trust compared to other labels. The basis for this is the permanent control as well as the animal-specific proof. Transparent proof with simple and detailed traceability contributes to an increase in trust right from the start. However, a long-term trust-promoting effect only manifests itself through positive reputations and personal experience. Not only the animal movement data, but in particular the combination of transparent communication and regional production are perceived as trust-promoting attributes. In conclusion, it can be emphasized that Million Steps as a whole and not specifically the animal movement data have the potential for a long-term trust-enhancing effect in beef and dairy products.

References

Esch, F.‑R., Rühl, V. & Baumgartl, C. (2016). Messung des Markenvertrauens. In F.-R. Esch (Hrsg.), Handbuch Markenführung (S. 1–16). Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-13361-0_66-1

PETA Deutschland e.V. (Harald Ullmann, Hrsg.). (2023). Die schlimmsten Lebensmittelskandale in Deutschland. Verfügbar unter: https://www.peta.de/themen/skandalchronik/

Sander, M., Heim, N. & Kohnle, Y. (2016). Label-Awareness: Wie genau schaut der Konsument hin? – Eine Analyse des Label-Bewusstseins von Verbrauchern unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Lebensmittelbereichs. Berichte über Landwirtschaft – Zeitschrift für Agrarpolitik und Landwirtschaft, Band 94, Heft 2, August 2016. https://doi.org/10.12767/BUEL.V94I2.120

Splendid Research. (2023). Studie: Gütesiegel Monitor 2023. Verfügbar unter: https://www.splendid-research.com/de/studie/guetesiegel-monitor2023/

Weiß, C. (2008). Zeichenvielfalt auf Lebensmitteln: ein Wegweiser. Ernährungs Umschau, (55), 83–93.

Acceptance of smart stores – An experimental case study

New technologies are changing people’s everyday lives and have also been increasingly used in food retailing for a few years now. Innovative store concepts are designed to align the shopping experience even better with the needs and requirements of consumers. So-called smart stores are a mixture of stationary retail and innovative technology. They represent a further development opportunity for the retail sector, enabling it to maintain its own position in the future alongside the rapidly growing online trade. So far, there are still few smart stores open for the public, as these further development investments are associated with some challenges for the operators. The technological development of such a store implies the change of the business model, high initial investments and an uncertainty about the acceptance of the consumers. This last aspect is where our research comes in. With the help of acceptance research on smart stores, first concepts can be evaluated and optimized and thus the potential of these innovative ideas can be fully exploited.

Research Aim

In the study presented here, the acceptance and perception of smart stores in general and of a specific store concept from Stuttgart were investigated. The study was conducted by Valentin Löffler, a student of our business psychology program, as part of his final thesis.

Method

The study design consisted of two parts. In the first part of the study, a short survey (approx. 5 minutes) was conducted in front of the smart store with randomly selected people who walked past the store as passers-by. This was to capture the expectations, and attitudes of the passersby towards the store concept. In the second part of the study, qualitative interviews (approx. 45 minutes) were conducted with people who had not yet visited a smart store. In these interviews, participants made a purchase at the smart store, answering questions about acceptance both before and after the shopping experience. While shopping, they were asked to speak their thoughts aloud (thinking aloud method).

Sample

In the first part of the study, a total of 71 people aged 20 to 69 participated.
In the second part of the study, a total of 10 people aged 23 to 43 were interviewed.

Selected Key Findings

    1. Sub-study:
    • Smart stores are generally rated positive
      (1.9 on a scale of 1 = very good to 6 = very poor)
    • 63% of respondents had already made at least one purchase at this smart store and 93% of them would also recommend this store to others.
    • Reasons for recommendation: “cool concept”, “continuous opening hours”, “practical” as well as “good supplement to the supermarket”.
    • The expectations of a smart store are a good selection, fresh fruits and vegetables, reliable technology, nice design, low prices and cleanliness.
    • Concerns about a smart store arise from the lack of personal contact between customers and employees.
    1. Sub-study:
    • After the initial shopping experience, respondents consistently had a positive perception of the smart store. They see it as a complement to conventional supermarkets. The intuitive operation was a particularly positive surprise.
    • Advantages: Opening hours, time savings and flexibility.
    • Disadvantages or uncertainty with regard to the reliability of the technical implementation, lack of social contact and the loss of jobs (compared to conventional supermarkets).

Conclusion:

Smart stores offer a novel and intuitive shopping experience that are already generating a high level of acceptance: The (first) shopping experiences are consistently described positively, but there were some concerns about how to get assistance in case of emergency when there are no employees on site. Another issue should be proactively considered in communication: possible loss of jobs. This study lays the foundation for further research in the area of smart stores and shows that these innovative concepts have a future.

Robots on Campus: An Exciting Study on Acceptance and Functionality

Imagine walking onto the campus of Heilbronn University (in a city in southern Germany) and being greeted by a friendly robot called Temi. Temi will effortlessly navigate you around the campus, tell you what’s on the menu in the canteen and even help you find the right person to talk to. Sounds futuristic? Well, that’s exactly what this exciting research project was all about.

Robotic assistants or service robots are increasingly used in various fields to support humans in everyday tasks and interactions. This study investigated the acceptance of the robotic assistant “Temi” on the educational campus in Heilbronn. The aim was to contribute to the successful implementation of the robot Temi on the educational campus.

Fotos: Martin Albermann

 

Research Goal

The main of this research was to investigate the acceptance of robots like Temi on the educational campus in Heilbronn and to find out which functionalities and characteristics are relevant for their further development. By taking into account the opinions and attitudes of the campus users, we were able to gain valuable insights that are of great importance for the future design and implementation of robots in comparable settings.

Research Overview

To achieve this goal, Marie Bauer, a business psychology student at our university, conducted a comprehensive study using a combination of research methods in an exploratory design. The study was conducted as part of the Smart Campus Initiative and in cooperation with Fraunhofer IAO. First, a qualitative study was conducted with two focus groups to gain deeper insights into the opinions and experiences of potential users. For each focus group, eight participants were recruited. These were made up of staff, students and visitors to the Heilbronn campus, in order to approximate the heterogeneous picture of the general user community of the campus. Secondly, a quantitative study was conducted with 230 participants, also consisting of these three target groups.

Sample Overview

The sample included people who regularly visited the campus as well as those who had never been there. This ensured that a wide range of perspectives and opinions were taken into account. The diversity of participants allowed for comprehensive and meaningful results. The majority of respondents were women (73.5%) aged between 19 and 26 (M=26). The majority of respondents had never been to the Heilbronn campus (70.4%). The remaining respondents were students (14.4%), employees (4.8%) or visitors (10.4%) to the Heilbronn Campus.

Main Findings

Overall, the acceptance of Temi on the educational campus was assessed as positive, although potential for improvement was also identified.

    • Maximum Difference Scaling (MDS): The MDS analysis revealed that navigation & guidance, information, and verbal & visual directions had the highest relative importance ratings and are therefore the most important functionalities and features relevant to the further development of Temi on the educational campus. Features such as feedback, greeting & welcoming, individual personality of the robot and entertainment were considered less important. These are functions that aim at entertaining interaction and fun with the robot.
    • Surprisingly, there were nearly no differences in the importance of features between regular campus users (students, staff, visitors) and those who had never been on campus.
    • Other feature suggestions: The most common other suggestions for potential future features of Temi were making emergency calls, contacting first responders, a cleaning feature, and the ability to contact Temi through an app.
    • Acceptance scores and factors: The acceptance of Temi on the educational campus was assessed as positive overall.
    • Predictive quality of the model: The structural model achieved an R2 value of .73, which means that 73% of the variance in intention to use could be explained by the model. The path coefficients of the factors usefulness, enjoyment and personal attitude had a significant positive influence on intention to use.
    • Descriptive values: Intention to use was rated positively on average (M = 3.77). The factors ease of use and facilitating conditions received the highest mean scores, while the factors social influence and personality received lower mean scores. Personal attitude, usefulness and enjoyment were in the positive middle range.

Implications

The results suggest that the further development of robots on educational campuses should initially focus on useful features for navigation, guidance and information provision. Features that focus on Temi’s entertainment can be neglected for the time being, based on the results of this study.

To increase acceptance, entertaining functions and features in the areas of usefulness, fun and personal attitude of the users should be integrated into the interaction with the robot. Privacy and data protection measures should be implemented to increase user confidence and further increase acceptance.

Conclusion

This research provided valuable insights into the acceptance and relevant functionalities of robots such as Temi on educational campuses. The results show that robots can play a promising role in education by helping users navigate the campus and providing useful information.

This research opens up new perspectives for the integration of robots in educational settings and raises exciting questions: How can robots like Temi enhance learning and everyday life on campus? How can we ensure that they respond to individual user needs? The future of education may be robotic, and this study is a first step in that exciting direction.

Will air taxis extend public transportation?

Cities and their surrounding areas have to face rising mobility and infrastructural challenges due to the increasing urbanization. Correspondingly, a new category for aerial vehicles and shared mobility concepts called urban air mobility (UAM) has emerged, offering a new dimension: the skyscape. Electrical Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, also known as air taxis, are considered the vehicle foundation of UAM. Air taxis provide a local, emission-free and infrastructure-conserving mode of transportation. For successful integration into the public transportation network, the intention to use and the willingness to accept air taxis must be present among potential users. Another important indicator for future infrastructure planning is the willingness to pay. Therefore, Hartmut Fricke, Robert Brühl, Laura Riza and Patrick Planing conducted a study that aims to investigate the willingness to use and pay for air taxis in various urban scenarios. This study was developed through an interdisciplinary research background and offers a first approximation for regular trips for each scenario.

Research Overview

The study, conducted in the greater Dresden area in Germany, integrates diverse research perspectives across different urban transport scenarios: societal acceptance, intention to use and willingness to pay. The data collection took place in the greater metropolitan area of the city, with a final sample of 1,074 participants. QR codes leading to a quantitative online survey were distributed to passersby at various locations within the city and on the outskirts to ensure that participants from different city areas were queried.
To ensure applicability in practical contexts, three scenarios meticulously drawn from real-life contexts were selected. One central factor that remained constant among the scenarios was that the air taxi covers the distance about 30 % faster than a car, conventional taxi, or bus and that there is less risk of delay due to external influences, such as congestion. Scenario 1 explored the utilization of air taxis as an individual transportation choice for a special occasion. Specifically, the application for a trip to an opera performance (“limousine case”). This scenario was chosen since the Dresden opera is among the most well-known operas in Europa and the most popular tourist location in the area. Scenario 2 examined an individual route from the respondent’s home to the Postplatz, a public square in the city center of Dresden (“taxi case”). Since the respondents reported their postal code, approximate distances to the location could be calculated for each scenario. In Scenario 3, the use of an air taxi as part of a fixed-schedule network was presented for a mid-distance flight in the larger city area (“bus case”).

Main findings of survey

  • Results indicated a restrained societal acceptance for air taxis among this sample in the greater Dresden metropolitan area.
    → Approximately half of the respondents indicated they do not want air taxis in Dresden in the future
  • Results indicated a restrained intention to use air taxis among this sample, with most respondents stating that it is unlikely they will use air taxis in the future.
  • Participants who would like to see air taxis in Dresden in the future would also be more likely to use them.
  • The intention to use air taxis in the future was highest in the limousine scenario and a similar intention emerged for the bus scenario. In the taxi scenario, the intention to use was lower.
  • The analysis revealed a significant difference in the intention to use air taxis between the limousine case and the taxi case, as well as between the taxi case and the bus case. No significant difference was found between the limousine and the bus scenarios. 
  • The PSM-light method was used to determine price willingness. For the limousine case, the computed willingness to pay is €30 per flight. In the second scenario, the taxi case, participants’ willingness to pay is €15, and for the bus case, it is €18. 

Conclusion

Overall, the data suggest that air taxis have not gained widespread acceptance yet, as approximately half of the respondents are not open to the idea of using them. The limited experience with air taxis, as they are not part of the transportation system, might contribute to the restricted acceptance of participants. Furthermore, the study reveals that people are more inclined to welcome the integration of air taxis into their cities if they perceive it as a technology they would use personally in the future. The scenario analysis revealed a greater inclination among respondents to use air taxis for special occasions compared to everyday commuting scenarios, indicating that people are more likely to consider air taxis for unique events rather than as a primary daily mode of transportation. Accordingly, consumers showed the highest willingness to pay in the limousine scenario. Based on this research, governmental authorities and industry stakeholders may consider the findings to develop a human-centered approach for future mobility and ensure successful implementation in the mobility networks of the future.
The complete study is available for open access in the Transportation Research Journal.

Life in a hobby lab: A qualitative user study on smart home acceptance in shared households

While many of our acceptance research studies focus on the quantitative evaluation of (potential) technology acceptance factors, this blog entry describes a qualitative approach to smart home acceptance research. In addition, it integrates the views of two target groups by trying to understand the mutual acceptance of members in a household.

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User acceptance of automobile subscriptions and flat rate models

Subscription or flat rate models are flexible alternatives which have been used for many years now, especially in relation to large data bases which are now available, for instance, to Netflix or Spotify customers. Hence, it is worth to explore more flexible usage models, not only in the media (e.g., streaming or music), but in the automotive industry as well. Indeed, especially young drivers or people living in the city, seem to prefer having a car ready to use for a specific time period when needed instead of owning the vehicle. Thus, compared to typical options drivers have, i.e. buying or leasing a vehicle, subscription or flat rate models offer drivers a way to book a vehicle in a flexible way which can be canceled at any point.

Car Flatrate

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User acceptance of autonomous delivery robots in different application contexts

Recently, autonomous robots have been utilized increasingly for the delivery of food and packages. Even though these electrically powered vehicles have been used in the U.S. since 2018, pilot projects are just now becoming more popular in Germany. Due to their advantages for customers and society as a whole, delivery robots could become an important aspect of the scenery in future cities. More specifically, deliveries carried out by autonomous robots are environmentally friendlier and an efficient answer to the growing number of online deliveries. Furthermore, customers expect high flexibility as well as fast, but less-costly deliveries – demands which can be met by autonomous robots. However, user acceptance is essential for the successful implementation of this innovation. So far, user acceptance research surrounding autonomous delivery robots is limited and there is little empirical literature considering different application scenarios of the technology. Thus, two students of our business psychology program investigated factors influencing the customers’ acceptance of autonomous robots for last mile transportation of goods with a focus on current as well as potential future application scenarios.

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What makes the implementation of collaboration tools successful? – A case study on employees’ acceptance when introducing MS Teams

Since the 1980s, Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) technologies have been developed and increasingly utilized to ensure digital collaboration of employees within and between organizations. The need for ways to work remotely and time-independently across various countries requires the implementation of digital collaboration tools now more than ever. Besides, the global Corona pandemic required a quick and efficient response of companies worldwide which served as a ”digitalization booster” regarding digital and remote working. Yet, the employees’ missing acceptance and corresponding resistance towards using these tools represents a substantial obstacle for organizations. Hence, employers need to consider which implementation measures are effective in securing acceptance and successful adaptation of novel technologies.

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First empirical insights into the user acceptance of hyperloop

Innovative mobility concepts have repeatedly been the subject of our research. This blog post summarizes the study results on the acceptance of hyperloop, a transportation method based on low pressure tubes and a magnetic levitation belt. Hyperloop promises a faster and more energy-efficient alternative, especially compared to airplanes. As with most innovations, one major challenge is gaining the acceptance of (potential) users. Due to the limited knowledge among the general public and little research around hyperloop, this study aimed at identifying the factors impacting user acceptance of hyperloop while focusing on different levels of the users’ knowledge about them.

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TEDxStuttgart: Prof. Dr. Patrick Planing – How psychology influences innovation

On October 8, 2022, mobility and acceptance researcher Prof. Dr. Patrick Planing presented his TED talk at the Liederhalle Stuttgart focusing on the question who decides which innovations humans will accept and use in the future.

Is it really strategists, inventors, founders and CEOs who tell us what our mobility will look like in 10 or 20 years? Or do we as consumers have more influence on the future than we might realize? Answers to these questions can be found in the following video.

Attention: The TED talk is presented in German.