Author(s): Midmore P, Francois M, Ness M
Abstract: Recent research has found clear differentiation between the views of regular and occasional consumers of organic products across Europe, with some distinct regional differences. There was also some evidence that a proportion of uncommitted consumers gradually consumes more organic products and eventually gains sufficient interest to develop into committed consumers. However, with most research focusing on regular, loyal or heavily committed organic consumers, the scope for market growth based on occasional, light, ‘new’ consumers has gone largely unexplored. We report on studies which, founded on the existing literature on organic consumers’ motivations and attitudes, explore the complex, interdependent and subjective nature of occasional consumers’ appreciation of organic products. The evidence discussed is from two sources. The first study reports on focus groups of occasional consumers conducted in five European countries, which compared quality and safety attributes with production and processing techniques between organic and conventional products. From this it can be concluded that many attitudes are very product-specific. The second study undertook a large-scale survey (involving more than 5500 respondents in 6 European countries) of regular purchasers of one of the four products featured in the focus groups. Each respondent answered a series of questions relating to one of the four products. Past purchases of organic foods were recorded, enabling regular and occasional organic consumers to be identified. Structural equation models developed from this data enable a large number of statistically significant differences in attitudes and beliefs about quality and safety in food products between regular and occasional consumers of organic foods to be described.
Keywords: Trans-European consumers, motivations, attitudes, organic products