Course overview

What motivates our food choices? Understanding why consumers choose a specific product and what makes them change brands can help every food manufacturer and retailer to influence consumer decisions. This course offers insight that explain purchasing behaviour and features speakers who can help you influence your consumers.

The Understanding & Influencing Consumer Behaviour course will introduce you to the science of consumer behaviour, and the importance of this to food manufacturers and retailers.

Consumer behaviour, broadly construed, is the study of how individual and groups select or choose the products or services that they decide to use. Through online lectures and three days of campus workshops, featuring speakers from across academia and industry, participants will explore the underlying behavioural mechanisms of consumers. This includes how to identify the range of factors that influence consumers and their purchasing behaviour. In addition, you will develop an understanding of the sensory, psychological and socio-cultural factors that influence consumers and their behaviour.

After completing the course, you will have a detailed understanding of the needs and motivations of consumers when making food choices, and the resulting impact this has on a wide range of different products. You will be able to profile customers into relevant market segments and relate these back to your own business. This course has a broad range of professional applications within the agrifood sector, but understanding and influencing consumer behaviour are of the utmost importance for food manufacturers and retailers.

This module is availabe for CPD (£1050) or for credit (£1300).. Modules taken as CPD can later be converted to credit for a fee of £250.  

Contact Name for Enquiries: Cathy Crips and Craig Farrell

Email address:

Telephone Number: 0118 378 8722 or 0118 378 7746


Previous Workshop Speakers Include:

  • Toby Coates – MMR Research
  • Dr David Jukes – University of Reading
  • Dr Anna Macready – Lecturer in Consumer Behaviour and Marketing – University of Reading
  • Dr Hal McFie – Consultant in Sensory & Consumer Science
  • Dr Lisa Methven Lecturer - Sensory Service centre – University of Reading
  • Tracey Sanderson – Managing Director, Sensory Dimensions
  • Professor David Thomson PhD – Chairman, MMR Research Worldwide

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course participants should be able to:

  • Understand what consumer behaviour is and why it is important to food manufacturers and retailers.
  • Understand the needs and motivation of consumers when making food choices
  • Understand consumer liking of and attitudes towards food
  • Understand the key factors shaping food choices and consumption
  • Understand consumer decision making
  • Profile customers into useful and actionable market segments
  • Understand how policy influences food marketing practices and consumer behaviour

The following transferable skills will be developed in this course:

  • Collection, critical evaluation, and dissemination of consumer behaviour information
  • Processing, analysis, and interpretation of data from consumer studies
  • Effective communication of scientific information in oral and written format with scientific rigour
Topics covered
  • What is consumer behaviour and why understanding consumer behaviour is important to food practitioners? What motivates consumers when making food choices?
  • Consumer liking of food including the influence of sensory experience
  • Consumer beliefs, feelings, and attitudes towards food products
  • Psychological and socio-cultural influences shaping food choices and consumption
  • Extrinsic and intrinsic profiling of consumers
  • Consumer decision making
  • Food policy issues

Introductory distance learning material will be provided via a virtual learning environment (VLE), and further learning material will be made available during the intensive teaching and study week. During and post the in-campus period, participants will undertake practical projects on several of the above topics.
The course consists of five weeks preliminary distance learning material, ahead of on-campus workshops providing a series of lectures and presentations covering different aspects of consumer behaviour. A major component will be problem-based learning, individual and group exercises. To conclude, participants undertake an individual task involving reflective learning.

Assessment Methods

In preparation for the campus workshops, participants will be required to undertake three tasks and upload them onto the VLE for discussion. On the final day of the on workshops, the group presentation will be given and the group report submitted. The individual task will be agreed during the on-campus workshops period and will be completed during the following 6 weeks.

The individual task will contribute 60% of the course mark
The Group Presentation contributes 20% of the course mark
Set exercises completed online during distance learning contribute 20% of the course mark

Self-assessment multiple choice question tests used during distance learning delivery. Questions related to video lectures and directed reading. Participants will be required to undertake a survey during the distance learning period the data from which will be analysed during the on-campus period in a data analysis workshop.



Key facts

Course Dates
4th-6th November, 2019
3 days of campus workshops preceded by 20-25 hours of online learning
Entry Requirements
Graduate level or relevant experience
Fee info
Discounts available for multiple bookings
CQFW Level
Course Provider
University Of Reading
Provider Reference Number
Course Arrangements
Full joining instructions will be confirmed by the course provider.
Course Location
University of Reading
AFTP Cohort
Course Logistics
3 days of campus workshops consisting of seminars, presentations, and practical sessions are preceded by a period of online study delivered through the University of Reading's Virtual Learning Environment. The online material is available from 19th March 2018, it is suggested that material is reviewed subsequentially, however, participants may vary their speed of learning to suit their own requirements. The course is awarded 10 academic credits where participants successfully complete the formative assessment requirements of the course. The course may also be taken as Continued Professional Development by completing the online learning and campus workshops.
My AFTP training course has given me greater confidence day-to-day and more insight into the impact of new techniques and technologies.
Andy Russell - Fresh Produce Technologist, Bakkavor

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