Cultural differences in health perception of cow’s and plant milk

Cultural differences between nations and continents have an impact on human behaviors, as stated by the Hofstede’s National Culture Theory (1), and is thus an important factors in consumer perception and behaviour (2). This spring, HMT intern Thanyathorn Wongnitchakul will investigate how the cultural differences between Europe and Asia is affecting the consumer perception of healthiness of cow’s and plant milks.

– I am originally from Thailand, but have had the opportunity to experience the Western culture during my master study of Health Food Innovation Management, at Maastricht university in the Netherlands. I am fascinated by the differences of both cultures which always keep surprising me. Furthermore, my opportunity to perform my internship with HMT in their Swedish office is a great chance to get to know yet another new culture, says Thanyathorn

Thus Thanya has decided to decide her master thesis to study the effect of cultural differences between Asian and European consumers on healthiness perception and consumers willingness to buy healthy food products, which for example may include fortifies and/or functional food products. The inheritably embedded cultural differences in consumer perception is of course important to take into account for companies with international aspirations.

– In particular I have decided to investigate the difference in the consumer perception of cow’s and plant-based milks, says Thanyathorn

For example, a hypothesis could be that Western consumers perceive soy milk to have an unpreferable taste or be less flavourful (3), whereas soy is well accepted as a favourite ingredient and good protein source for Asian consumers.

The result of this cross-cultural study will help to broaden the understanding of consumers in Asia and Europe and how companies’ can match their offerings properly to certain markets, with specific empahsize on plant-based offerings. The study will also help to generate new marketing and communication tactics of how to bring the healthy food product faster and more successfully to certain markets.


1. Hofstede, G. (2003). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations: Sage publications.

2. Ronteltap, A., van Trijp, J. C. M., Renes, R. J., & Frewer, L. J. (2007). Consumer acceptance of technology-based food innovations: Lessons for the future of nutrigenomics. Appetite, 49(1), 1-17. doi:

3. Wansink, B., Park, S. B., Sonka, S. T., & Morganosky, M. (2000). How soy labeling influences preference and taste.

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