Research into how Media Influencers Affect Consumer Attitudes?

Researchers at the Universities of Adelaide, Wollongong and Tasmania are undertaking FRDC-funded research about the impacts of chefs and media influencers on consumer attitudes to sustainable seafood. It aims to understand how chefs and media influencers shape consumer views about the sustainability of Australian seafood, and to provide tools for those seeking to work with chefs and influencers to promote a sustainable Australian seafood industry.

Lead investigator, Dr Michelle Phillipov from the University of Adelaide said that the research aims to examine Australian media texts across all major genres and platforms over the past 4 years (2015 -2018).

“We will be conducting interviews with chefs, media influencers and focus groups with consumers.”

“Through these meetings we aim to identify the major reported issues affecting seafood sustainability, the role of chefs and media influencers in this media coverage, and the effects of different media and communications strategies in contributing to ‘share of voice’ in key issues.”

“This research will be used to provide recommendations for how industry can more effectively work with celebrity chefs and other media influencers in promoting the sustainability of Australian seafood.”

As consumers become increasingly interested in where their food comes from and how it is produced, assurances about provenance, sustainability and ethics are increasingly expected.

However, Dr Phillipov said the complexity of the contemporary media environment poses a range of challenges to industries seeking to effectively communicate ‘sustainability’.

“An unexpected ‘Twitter storm’ can change the fate of industries very rapidly,” she said.

“It is in this context of rapid change that chefs and media influencers can be great allies to industry and help to ‘cut through’ a lot of the media noise.”

Phillipov said that chefs’ knowledge about food, along with their connection to consumers, makes them excellent advocates for industry.

“Across all the media that we have looked at, chefs generally acknowledge that Australia’s wild-catch fisheries are among the best managed and most sustainable in the world. Chefs want to support a sustainable and thriving seafood industry.”

“There are a number of success stories, particularly in WA, of successful partnerships between chefs and industry.”

“We are seeking to understand what makes relationships successful, in order to develop best-practice guidelines for others seeking to work with chefs and other media influencers.”

“Please contact us if you would like to share your successes (and failures!) in working with chefs and other media influencers, your thoughts on what resources for media engagement you would find most useful, or anything else you would like to discuss about the project,” she said.

Contact Michelle Phillipov via michelle.phillipov@adelaide.edu.au for further information or to become involved in the research.