Microwave usage patterns among college students at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Virginia Tech


To determine microwave usage patterns, a telephone survey was administered to 300 college students living off campus. The objectives of the study were to determine: a) incidence of ownership, b) characteristics of students who have a microwave oven and those that do not, c) patterns of use of microwave ovens, and d) characteristics of the present microwave oven and one desired in the future.

Rogers’ Adoption Process was used as the model to determine that each owner had adopted the appliance into their lifestyle. The adoption stage was divided into three use levels: primary appliance used for cooking, appliance used as a supplement to the ranges and appliance used infrequently.

It was found that 192 (64%) of the 300 participants had a microwave oven in there household and 237 (79%) would make a purchase of an appliance in the future. The microwave ovens that are currently owned have an average of 4.2 features including a minute timer, variable power, automatic defrost, and touch controls. Students who would purchase a microwave in the future desired an average of 7.2 features, minute timer, variable power, automatic defrost, touch controls, clock, and delay start.

The tasks that are currently being performed in the microwave were divided into low, medium, and high complexity. Students using their microwaves more than their range prepare the most medium and low complexity foods, while owners who use their microwave as a supplement to their range prepare the greatest number of high complexity foods. Participants in all levels of adoption were satisfied with foods prepared in the microwave most of the time.

Information from this study would be relevant to microwave manufacturers, residential property development corporations, and designers of food products and container.