Consumer Characteristics Affect on Local and Organic Purchasing

Thursday, July 25, 2013: 1:00 PM
Springs Salon D/E (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Lingqiao Qi, Graduate Research Assistant , University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Ben Campbell, Assistant Professor and Extension Economist , University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Yizao Liu, Assistant Professor , University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
The terms local and organic are becoming common in most retail environments, especially in the merchandising of produce.  Recent studies have examined the perceptions and misperceptions of these terms, as well as shown that consumers are willing to pay price premiums for produce.  Another area of research has focused on the consumer characteristics that drive increased purchasing of local and organic.  However, little to no research has examined how consumer characteristics are impacting the tradeoffs between local and organic purchasing in the marketplace.  The objective of this study was to understand how various consumer characteristics, purchasing behaviors and environmental concerns (i.e. being egotistic, altruistic, or biospheric)  impact local and organic purchasing, especially with regard to what causes consumers to purchase more local and less organic, and vice versa.  Using a 2010 U.S. and Canadian survey, we categorize local and organic purchasing into 9 groups representing each combination of local (none/seldom, sometimes, most times/always) and organic (none/seldom, sometimes, most times/always).  Using a multinomial logit model, and its corresponding marginal effects, we are able to identify the impact of various consumer characteristics and behaviors on category assignment.  Preliminary results indicate a difference between U.S. and Canadian consumers.  Furthermore, results indicate that certain consumer characteristics and purchasing behaviors do impact whether a consumer purchases more local and less organic as well as more organic and less local.  We also see that consumers' environmental concerns play a role in which labeled produce they purchase, especially with respect to consumers that are egotistic and altruistic.  These results will allow for a better understanding of what is driving purchasing and will allow businesses to adopt strategies to be more competitive in the marketplace.