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Psycho-Behavioural Segmentation in Food and Nutrition: A Systematic Scoping Review of the Literature

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Authors: Eva L. Jenkins and Samara Legrand, Linda Brennan, Annika Molenaar, Mike Reid and Tracy A. McCaffrey.

Background: Inadequate dietary intakes are a key modifiable risk factor to reduce the risk of developing non-communicable diseases. To encourage healthy eating and behaviour change, innovative public health interventions are required. Social marketing, in particular segmentation, can be used to understand and target specific population groups. However, segmentation often uses demographic factors, ignoring the reasons behind why people behave the way they do.

Aim: This review aims to explore the food and nutrition related research that has utilised psycho-behavioural segmentation.

Methods: Six databases from were searched in June 2020. Inclusion criteria were: published 2010 onwards, segmentation by psycho-behavioural variables, outcome related to food or nutrition, and healthy adult population over 18 years.

Results: 30 studies were included; most were quantitative (n = 28) and all studies used post-hoc segmentation methods, with the tools used to segment the population varying. None of the segments generated were targeted in future research. Psycho-behavioural factors are key in understanding people’s behaviour. However, when used in post-hoc segmentation, do not allow for effective targeting as there is no prior understanding of behaviours that need to change within each segment.

Conclusions: In future, we should move towards hybrid segmentation to assist with the design of interventions that target behaviours such as healthy eating.

Keywords: Social marketing; segmentation; nutrition; food; psycho-behavioural variables.