Study finds seafood marketing needs to be tailored by region

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Consumers in different parts of the world prefer different sales messages when it comes to marketing seafood, a study has found.

Researchers at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture studied logos, certification and claims on exhibitor booths at seafood shows in China (Guangzhou, Qingdao and Shanghai) Europe (Brussels), and the US (Boston) during 2019.

They found a clear difference in approach between the global south – mainly China, and the north – Europe and North America. Chinese messaging focussed on food safety and the quality of the product itself, while European and North American consumers were interested in the sustainability of production processes.

PhD researcher Wesley Malcorps, who led the study, said: “The global north showed a high interest in environmental sustainability, which is driven by consumer demand for ecolabels and sustainable production practices.

“However, China showed a higher interest in messaging around ‘safety’ and ‘quality’, which can be traced to concerns over food safety scares, due to less developed standard operating procedures than are the norm for retailers in the Europe and North America.

“The use of ‘quality’ messaging was used to strengthen associations with the perceived natural characteristics and health benefits of seafood consumption in the Chinese market.”

He added: “An understanding of culture, messaging strategies and interpretation can improve the communication of product characteristics and in turn improve business and production practices, better meeting the expectations of the final consumer.”

The study was carried out in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, Kafrelsheikh University, South China Sea Fisheries Research Institute, Shanghai Ocean University and the University of Massachusetts Boston.

It was part of the Green Aquaculture Intensification Project (GAIN), funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. The paper ‘Global Seafood Trade: Insights in Sustainability Messaging and Claims of the Major Producing and Consuming Regions,’ is published in the journal Sustainability.

Wesley Malcorps

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