National Consumer Research Center

Helsinki, Finland

National Consumer Research Center

Helsinki, Finland
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Heiskanen E.,National Consumer Research Center | Johnson M.,Helsinki Institute for Information Technology | Vadovics E.,Green Dependent Sustainable Solutions Association
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2013

European energy policy aims to shift the energy market towards an increased focus on energy services based on end-user needs. This requires a close understanding of the role of end-users and their needs and practices. Based on a European project called CHANGING BEHAVIOUR, we examine the interaction between energy users and energy efficiency practitioners. Using previous cases and our own pilots as data, we uncover the main difficulties in understanding and working with energy users. We argue that formal user research and interaction methods are helpful, yet insufficient for project success or even genuine user responsiveness. Additionally, methods and skills are needed for interacting with broader networks of stakeholders in the user context. Moreover, user responsiveness requires informal interaction with energy users, interpersonal skills and human judgement, which are difficult to develop merely by using better methods. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Heiskanen E.,National Consumer Research Center | Johnson M.,National Consumer Research Center | Robinson S.,Street Capital | Vadovics E.,Green Dependent Sustainable Solutions Association | Saastamoinen M.,National Consumer Research Center
Energy Policy | Year: 2010

Previous attempts to change energy-related behaviour were targeted at individuals as consumers of energy. Recent literature has suggested that more focus should be placed on the community level and that energy users should be engaged in the role of citizens, and not only that of consumers. This article analyses different types of emerging low-carbon communities as a context for individual behavioural change. The focus is on how these communities offer solutions to problems in previous attempts to change individual behaviour. These problems include social dilemmas, social conventions, socio-technical infrastructures and the helplessness of individuals. Different community types are examined, including geographical communities as well as sector-based, interest-based and smart mob communities. Through four case studies representing each of these community types, we examine how different communities reframe problems on the individual level to reduce carbon emissions. On the basis of an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of various community solutions, implications are drawn for further research and for the design and support of low-carbon communities. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.


Pouta E.,MTT Economic Research | Heikkila J.,MTT Economic Research | Forsman-Hugg S.,MTT Economic Research | Isoniemi M.,National Consumer Research Center | Makela J.,National Consumer Research Center
Food Quality and Preference | Year: 2010

An increasing interest and concern among consumers in the ways in which food is produced has led to a need for differentiation in production methods in directions valued by consumers. In this study we used a choice experiment to analyse the importance of the production method, such as organic production and methods emphasising animal welfare or consumer health, and country of origin on the selection of broiler meat by Finnish consumers. The results revealed very strong positive perceptions of domestically produced broiler products. The effect of production method was significant but minor. Emphasising animal welfare in production particularly increased the probability of consumer choice. We also tested the effect of providing production information either in labels or verbally, and found that well-established labels have positive impacts whereas non-familiar labels may be counter-productive. Latent class analysis revealed the heterogeneity of consumer preferences, but did not facilitate the profiling of consumer groups based on socioeconomic data. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Jauho M.,National Consumer Research Center | Niva M.,National Consumer Research Center
Food, Culture and Society | Year: 2013

This article examines the lay appropriation of so-called functional foods that are marketed to enhance health and well-being and/or to reduce the risk of disease. Previous research has shown that consumers are skeptical of functional foods and inclined to contrast them with natural and non-technological foods. We argue that taking into account the hybrid nature of functional foods at the borderline between food and medicine provides a useful starting point for an analysis of lay appropriation, i.e. understanding and adoption of the new products. We first present results from earlier studies on lay conceptions of healthy eating and of medicines, and then analyze the role of these in the lay appropriation of functional foods. In this analysis, we make use of findings from both our own studies and those of other researchers, and give consumers a voice by presenting quotations from a qualitative study carried out in Finland in 2004. We claim that the food-medicine dichotomy can in many respects explain the ways in which consumers conceptualize functional foods and adopt them in their daily eating. © Association for the Study of Food and Society 2013.


Hankonen N.,University of Helsinki | Hankonen N.,Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare | Kinnunen M.,Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare | Absetz P.,Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare | And 2 more authors.
Annals of Behavioral Medicine | Year: 2014

Background: Trait self-control and social cognitions both predict dietary behaviors, but whether self-control is associated with more beneficial diet-related cognitions, and the effect of self-control on diet mediated by them, has rarely been examined. Purpose: We hypothesized that the effect of self-control on healthy diet is explained by more proximal diet-related social cognitive factors. Methods: Altogether, 854 military conscripts (age M = 20) completed questionnaires on trait self-control and social cognitive factors (self-efficacy, outcome expectations, risk perceptions, intentions and planning) upon entering the service and a food frequency questionnaire after 8 weeks. Results: Trait self-control was associated with more positive cognitions regarding healthy diet. The mediation hypothesis received support for fruit and vegetable but only partially for fast food consumption. Conclusion: Individuals high in trait self-control eat more healthily because they have higher self-efficacy, more positive taste expectations, stronger intentions and more plans, compared to those low in self-control. © 2013 The Society of Behavioral Medicine.


Breukers S.C.,Energy Research Center of the Netherlands | Heiskanen E.,Oko Institute e.V. | Brohmann B.,National Consumer Research Center | Mourik R.M.,Energy Research Center of the Netherlands | Feenstra C.F.J.,Energy Research Center of the Netherlands
Energy | Year: 2011

Exchange of experience between researchers and practitioners is important for arriving at new knowledge that is translatable into practice and at the same time endures in science. This notion has been central in CHANGING BEHAVIOUR, a project aimed at a better understanding of why energy demand-side management (DSM) programmes succeed or fail. Generally, there is a growing tradition of evaluation that encompasses the co-construction of programmes, technology and context. Nevertheless, most current research and evaluation in this particular area focuses solely on the influence of programme characteristics while overlooking contextual factors and transdisciplinary integration. This paper presents the outcomes of theoretical and empirical work involving new insights regarding the crucial conditions for successful energy DSM programmes. In addition, we demonstrate the usefulness of an Action Research methodology that aims to explicitly promote social change though transdisciplinary collaboration between researchers and practitioners. We conclude that a conceptualisation of energy behavioural change as nested within and interacting with broader social processes differs from existing models that place individual change processes at the centre of attention. The toolbox we developed for and with practitioners (involved in designing and implementing energy demand-side programmes) differs accordingly, among others in that it is context-sensitive. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Heiskanen E.,National Consumer Research Center | Lovio R.,Aalto University | Jalas M.,Aalto University
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2011

There are many cost-effective technologies to reduce resource use and carbon dioxide emissions in space heating, yet they are adopted very slowly, and inefficient heating systems persist. In this article, we examine path dependence and path creation in home heating systems. Path dependence refers to the self-sustaining characteristics of existing systems such as the dominant energy system. Path creation is a related concept that highlights entrepreneurship in 'mindfully deviating' from existing paths and creating new ones by engaging various stakeholders and generating momentum. Research on path creation in energy systems has focused on energy production systems, whereas end-use technologies have gained less attention. We explore the role of path creation in end-use technologies through four attempts to change heating systems for detached houses in Finland via the promotion of heat pump technologies. Within the path creation process, we focus on how the initiators of new paths try to counter the forces maintaining the dominant system. In particular, we pay attention to how small organizations make use of co-operation to challenge the existing path. The aim is to identify the conditions for successful path creation by entrepreneurs and energy end-users under adverse conditions. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Saarinen M.,Mtt Agrifood Research Finland | Kurppa S.,Mtt Agrifood Research Finland | Virtanen Y.,Mtt Agrifood Research Finland | Usva K.,Mtt Agrifood Research Finland | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2012

The purpose of the project on which this paper is based was to develop a food-related communication tool for sustainable education in the upper levels of Finnish elementary schools. A life cycle assessment (LCA) of a range of lunches was conducted with reference to two impact categories, climate change and eutrophication potential. This paper presents results of the LCA studies. As the principal requirement of food is that it is nutritious, environmental impacts were assessed for complete lunches, which represented home-made portions, ready-to-eat portions and school lunches. Home-made and ready-to-eat lunches followed the lunch plate model, in which half of the plate consists of vegetables, one quarter of protein and one quarter of a starch source. The portion is completed with bread, a fat spread and milk. In addition, the total energy content of the lunches and the amount of energy from fat, protein and carbohydrate was set according to nutritional recommendations. School lunches were based on actual food consumption in one school. Comparisons between mixed, vegetarian and vegan home-made lunches were carried out as well as between home-made and ready-to-eat lunches. School lunches were investigated separately because of different portion sizes. In general, mixed home-made lunches resulted in 2-5 times more potential impact than vegetarian and vegan lunches. In addition to protein source, the choice of salad also made a substantial difference, especially regarding impact on climate. In contrast, the choice of starch was without major implications. Ready-to-eat lunches caused less potential impact than the equivalent home-made lunches more because of raw material choices than energy consumption. School lunches resulted in the least impact. The lunch plate approach is regarded as representing a good foundation for consideration of both the nutritional and the environmental aspects of food choices. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Niva M.,National Consumer Research Center | Jauho M.,National Consumer Research Center | Makela J.,University of Helsinki
Appetite | Year: 2013

This article examines everyday ideals of eating for weight management as described by middle-aged and elderly Finns with varying experiences of managing their weight. The paper draws on the theoretical approach of appropriation and looks at the meanings, understandings and use of foods for weight management in the context of the practices of eating. The article is based on an analysis of eight focus group discussions with 68 people (47 women, 21 men, aged between 38 and 77) conducted in Helsinki in autumn 2009. The findings of the study suggest that lay understandings of foods suitable for weight management rest not only on simple measures such as energy, fat and sugar, but also on a complex set of generalised food ideals. These include a conflict between foods described as natural against artificial, moral judgements of the necessity of foods designed for weight management, and the overall emphasis on moderation as a basic ideal. The results indicate that people employ two perspectives in assessing foods suitable for weight management: in the context of the whole of diet the products are dismissed as unnecessary, but in specific situations they can replace 'normal' products if the latter are deemed more harmful. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Wahlen S.,University of Helsinki | Heiskanen E.,National Consumer Research Center | Aalto K.,National Consumer Research Center
Journal of Consumer Policy | Year: 2012

The aim of this article was to analyse an attempt to promote sustainable consumption by shaping the conditions for consumption. In particular, the focus lies on sustainable public catering as an approach to shaping both the supply of and demand for sustainable meals. In order to capture the processes of governing consumption, the way is traced in which rationalities (ways of thinking and calculating), technologies (means and instruments), visibilities (concrete manifestations), and identities (types of agents assumed) related to a policy intervention for sustainable public catering are interpreted and recreated by three main groups of actors involved: policy makers, catering professionals, and consumers. This analysis highlights the active role of practitioners in realizing policies for sustainable consumption. It has implications for policy makers and analysts: Reflexive policies should heed to actors' unfolding interpretations as they can take the policy process in different directions. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

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