Consumer expectations and attitudes
Methods for eliciting consumer beliefs about fresh and processed organic foods
Richard Shepherd et al., Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre, University of Surrey, UK
The theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen, 1991) has been widely applied to studies of factors influencing food choice, including organic foods (Sparks and Shepherd, 1992). The traditional method for eliciting beliefs within this approach involves asking consumers for perceived advantages and disadvantages of the behaviour but this tends to yield rational beliefs and may underestimate the impact of affective and moral issues.
As part of an EU-funded project (CONDOR), a study was conducted in the UK, Finland and Italy testing word association and an open-ended method of eliciting emotions and beliefs as alternatives to this traditional method for both fresh and processed organic foods. Although there were small differences in the results between the countries, overall the methods all elicited similar types of beliefs. The fresh organic foods were considered to be more natural and the participants expressed more positive feelings towards them and also mentioned the shelf-life of these foods. Processed foods brought out more negative views and issues of trust. Quality, health issues, expense and chemicals in foods were mentioned for both fresh and processed foods. The word association task brought out more imagery and names of specific foods. The traditional task and the open-ended beliefs task elicited similar categories of responses. However, by explicitly asking about emotions and feelings the open-ended emotions sections generated additional categories that were purely emotional and not expressed in any of the other methods. Moral categories were elicited by both the traditional task and open-ended beliefs in equal measure.
Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179-211.
Sparks, P. & Shepherd, R. (1992). Self-identity and the theory of planned behavior: assessing the role of identification with "green consumerism". Social Psychology Quarterly, 55, 388-399.
TECHNICAL SEMINAR 15: Understanding consumer motivations