Motivating consumers to buy organic
While the organic sector has experienced strong growth in recent years, it’s still difficult to predict whether consumers will opt for organic or conventionally produced food.
Authors of a paper produced by Washington State University (WSU) College of Business that explores consumers’ motivations when considering organic produce say it will enable advertisers to more effectively target the fast-growing organic food market.
“We propose that organic purchases are not just made with the intention of benefiting oneself,” said lead author Ioannis Kareklas, a WSU assistant professor of marketing .
“Our paper provides evidence that advertising that highlights and addresses both personal (egoistic) and environmental (altruistic) concerns in tandem may be the most impactful in influencing consumer attitudes toward and intentions to purchase organic products.”
Research has shown that promotional messages tend to be evaluated more favourably when they are consistent with consumers’ values, said Kareklas. For example, independent, Western cultures that tend to emphasise autonomy and individualism respond more favourably to ads that emphasise personal welfare. Consumers from interdependent cultures, such as East Asian and Latin American countries, prefer ads that emphasise collective welfare.
However, research shows that egoistic and altruistic considerations coexist within all individuals, Kareklas says. Therefore, advertising claims focusing on egoistic/altruistic concerns can make consumers aware of their underlying values, thus increasing the effectiveness of promotional messages.
Parts one and two of a three-part study to test the premise suggested that consumers’ organic product purchases may be influenced by both egoistic and altruistic considerations.
A key finding as that consumers are more influenced by altruistic concerns when considering the purchase of green/organic products compared to conventional products.
The third study involved promoting a fictitious brand of organic meat called Gold Standard. The ads emphasised personal health, nutritional value, taste, cleaner water, humane treatment of livestock, community support and a combination of egoistic and altruistic claims.
“We found that the ad featuring both egoistic and altruistic appeals produced more favourable attitudes toward the brand and company, and greater purchase intentions,” said Kareklas.
These results go some way towards explaining why and how specific organic food attitudes and purchase intentions vary among individuals.
“It’s important to view consumers’ organic food perceptions and buying tendencies in relation to self-concept,” said Kareklas.
“Unlike previous research that often views the two self-views to be mutually exclusive and competing, we find that the goals of the independent and interdependent view of the self are complimentary influences in the context of organic/green purchase considerations.”
The researchers suggest advertisers consider designing messages that relate to personal benefits and environmental benefits in tandem, noting that synergies may be gained by emphasising both.
The paper, titled “I Eat Organic for My Benefit and Yours: Egotistic and Altruistic Considerations for Purchasing Organic Food and Their Implications for Advertising Strategists”, will appear in the Journal of Advertising.
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