Course overview

What motivates our food choices? Understanding why consumers choose a specific product and what makes them change brands can help every food manufacturer and retailer influence consumer decisions. This course offers insight that explains purchasing behaviour and features speakers who can help you influence your consumers.

The Understanding & Influencing Consumer Behaviour course will introduce you to the science of consumer behaviour and its importance to food manufacturers and retailers.

Consumer behaviour, broadly construed, is the study of how individual and groups select or choose the products or services that they decide to use. Through online lectures and three days of campus workshops featuring speakers from across academia and industry, participants will explore consumers’ underlying behavioural mechanisms, including identifying the range of factors that influence consumers and their purchasing behaviour. Also, you will develop an understanding of the sensory, psychological and socio-cultural factors that influence consumers and their behaviour.

After completing the course, you will have a detailed understanding of consumers’ needs and motivations when making food choices and the resulting impact this has on a wide range of different products. You will be able to profile customers into relevant market segments and relate these back to your own business. This course has a broad range of professional applications within the agrifood sector, but understanding and influencing consumer behaviour are of the utmost importance for food manufacturers and retailers.

This module is available for CPD (£1200) or for credit (£1500)


Previous Workshop Speakers Include:

Toby Coates – MMR Research

Dr David Jukes – University of Reading

Dr Anna Macready – Lecturer in Consumer Behaviour and Marketing – University of Reading

Dr Hal McFie – Consultant in Sensory & Consumer Science

Dr Lisa Methven Lecturer – Sensory Service centre – University of Reading

Tracey Sanderson – Managing Director, Sensory Dimensions

Professor David Thomson PhD – Chairman, MMR Research Worldwide

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course, participants should be able to:

Understand what consumer behaviour is and why it is vital to food manufacturers and retailers.

Understand the needs and motivation of consumers when making food choices

Understand consumer liking of and attitudes towards food

Understand the key factors shaping food choices and consumption

Understand the consumer decision making

Profile customers into valuable and actionable market segments

Understand how policy influences food marketing practices and consumer behaviour


The following transferable skills will be developed in this course:

Collection, critical evaluation, and dissemination of consumer behaviour information

Processing, analysis, and interpretation of data from consumer studies

Effective communication of scientific information in oral and written format with scientific rigour

Topics covered:

What is consumer behaviour, and why understanding consumer behaviour is vital to food practitioners? What motivates consumers when making food choices?

Consumer liking of food including the influence of sensory experience

Consumer beliefs, feelings, and attitudes towards food products

Psychological and socio-cultural influences shaping food choices and consumption

Extrinsic and intrinsic profiling of consumers

Consumer decision making

Food policy issues

Introductory distance learning material is provided via a virtual learning environment (VLE), and further learning material will be made available during the face to face workshop period.

During and after the workshops, participants will undertake practical projects on several of the above topics.

The course consists of five weeks of preliminary distance learning material, ahead of on-campus workshops providing a series of lectures and presentations covering different aspects of consumer behaviour. A major component will be problem-based learning, individual and group exercises. To conclude, participants undertake a particular task involving reflective learning.

Assessment Methods:

In preparation for the campus workshops, all participants are required to undertake tasks and upload them onto the VLE for discussion during the workshops.

On the final day of the workshops,  a group presentation will be given and a group report submitted.

Participants completing the course for academic credit will also complete an individual task that will be agreed during the on-campus workshops period and completed during the following 6 weeks.

Course Dates 17-19 October 2022
Type/Duration Online – Live 3 half days
Entry Requirements Graduate level or relevant experience
Credits 5
Cost  £850
Course Provider University of Reading
Provider Reference Number FZMR04

Course Arrangements


The course provider will confirm full joining instructions.
Course Location University of Reading
Cohort EPTH Cohort
Course Logistics 3 days of campus workshops consisting of seminars, presentations, and practical sessions preceded by a period of online study delivered through the University of Reading’s Virtual Learning Environment.

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