Using ethnographical research to influence consumer eating habits for the Danish Agriculture & Food Council

The Danish Agriculture and Food Council (Landbrug & Fødevarer) is responsible for thousands of farms in Denmark, with a deep responsibility to its members to ensure the Danish population buys the meat products they sell.

This requires highly targeted development and marketing strategies to influence purchase in a way that’s most beneficial to its members.

To do this they need a deep understanding of the population and its consumers so farmers and food companies can excel in developing and marketing products in line with consumer needs.

Surveys don’t give enough insight

But in order to really understand how consumers interact with products, it takes more than a simple survey.  

It can be incredibly complex to gain real consumer insight and ethnographical-anthropological research can really dig deep into understanding how consumers interact with products pre-, post- and during purchase.

Landbrug & Fødevarer’s Consumer Economist, Marianne Gregersen said: “We use ethnographical research once or twice a year. I find it particularly valuable when I want to discover consumer behaviour in more depth, or when I want to uncover new opportunities for how food can better meet the needs of consumers.

“It is a particularly useful method for understanding behaviour that the consumers do not have the specific vocabulary to describe, for example preparing meat in a certain way or explaining why they did or didn’t purchase a certain product .”


Shopping, cooking and eating with the consumer

In the project with Epinion both parties worked together to conduct an ethnographical-anthropological study that looked at how Danes interacted with meat along each step of the consumer journey.

As so many consumers ‘auto-shop’ and ‘auto-cook’ (making decisions unconsciously) it can prove hard for them to actually recall certain actions they’ve undertaken in the buying process, let alone explain them. This is where shop-along research can prove critical in revealing actual consumer usage and attitude.

Marianne said: “In the study we conducted with Epinion the research showed that minced meat was not being prepared in the way we thought it would be. In fact, consumers felt tricked because water leaves the meat when too much is cooked at one time. This was not expected but incredibly valuable because it means we can use this information in our communications and, amongst other things, improve our recipe development by informing consumers they should cook a little amount of beef at a time in order for it to fry, rather than boil.

“Because of this study we gained important insight and new ideas for product development and communication.”


Time saving and innovative

For many brands the fresh insight ethnographical research provides makes it increasingly paramount in development and marketing.

Marianne said: “The research that is becoming more and more important to us is the research that is forward thinking because attitudes change rapidly and it is therefore important to be ahead of the consumer all the time.

“The insights that Epinion provide are very useful as they establish a clear link between analysis, insights and action. This is a very innovative and time saving approach to research that we are very fond of and really helped us in understanding the key priorities.”


Are your consumers interacting with your products how you expect them to?

By using ethnographic-anthropological research, you can obtain a better understanding of your consumers’ needs and thoughts relating to your category and brand and help answer:

  • Why do consumers choose your brand?
  • Why isn’t your brand chosen by some?
  • Is your in-store placement and communication optimised?
  • How does the consumer navigate in the shop?
  • What role does packaging play? Can it be optimised?
  • How much does price matter in the category?
  • How is your product prepared at home?
  • Can at-home product experience be optimised?
  • What are the occasions when your brand is chosen or not-chosen?
  • Can your brand be linked to more occasions?
  • Which barriers deny your brand from selling?


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