Assessing consumers’ mindsets for purchasing organic and local produce: importance of perceived product and emotional benefits
Campbell, B.L., Lesschaeve, I., Bowen , A.J, Onufrey, S.R., and Moskowitz H.
Submitted to Acta Horticulturae and presented at the 2010 International Horticulture Congress
The growth of the “buy organic” movement is driven by claims that organic food is healthier, and more environmentally and socially responsible. At the same time, the local food movement is gaining momentum and may potentially compete with the organic market as an environmentally friendly alternative. This study was conducted to understand whether these claims were effective drivers for Ontario consumers to purchase fresh produce. A conjoint analysis using the IdeaMap® technology was designed and implemented to probe the effects of different factors, which included benefits and personal feeling consumers associated with the purchase of local and organic produce. Participants were contacted from an on-line database including individuals who had previously agreed to participate in internet-based studies. 278 respondents were selected out of 1123 consumers after passing an on-line screening questionnaire about their fruit and vegetable purchase habits and consumption. Qualified respondents evaluated 48 vignettes combining 2 to 4 elements according to a factorial design for their purchase intent and willingness to pay, and responded to 23 demographic questions. Overall, respondents had a positive predisposition to buy fruits and vegetables that were reinforced by produce visuals, logos certifying Ontario origin, and accessibility. However, health and environmental claims were the primary drivers only for females. Three mindset segments were identified among respondents, differing in the elements that were driving interest and willingness to purchase fresh produce. They were described as: “Confident in Ontario produce” ( 47%), “Organic buyers relying on visual signals”( 24.5%), “Socially responsible locavores (28.5%)”. The latter was the only group motivated by environment, health, and social responsibility claims and showed more interest for local food.