The organic food market is characterized by an uninterrupted growth during the past decade (Fibl, 2010; Spiller, 2006; Hamm and Gronefeld, 2004). Between 2006-2007, the organic food market in Europe is growing on average about 10% per year with an average per-capita spending of 27 Euros across all European countries (Padel et al., 2009). This increase is accompanied by challenges in market structures, distribution channels as well as differentiation of expectations and buying motives of organic food consumers. On this regard, the “hedonistic” motives for purchasing of organic food such as health, taste and wellness gained importance in comparison with the “altruistic” purchasing motives such as environmental protection and animal welfare. Therefore, some scientists pointed out that sensory attributes are important elements that should be taken into account in the marketing strategies by organic food distributors (Brennan and Kuri, 2002, Padel and Foster, 2005) than even before. On this regard, available literature lacks of empirical research investigating experiences and expectations of organic consumers which may support organic food producers, processors and distributors in drafting their marketing strategies. The objective of this paper is to explore in-depth sensory experiences, expectations and perceptions of organic consumers when purchasing and eating organic food, using qualitative marketing research techniques. The output of this research will be the identification of some key elements which may make researchers able to address further research and may provide useful recommendations to food industry practitioners interested in marketing organic food. Focus group interviews supported by semi-structured questionnaire were performed during 2009; five groups composed by 6-10 organic food consumers in different locations in Italy were invited to join group discussions focused on their approach to sensory characteristics of food. Each interview had a duration of about 1 hour has been video recorded. The interviews content was transcribed and then analyzed with the method of content analysis. The results indicate that some consumers still appear to be confused about the meaning of the term „organic food‟. The term is often associated with a set of desired features of food such as naturalness, freshness, but without any reference to the method of production, or with other types of niche products, such as artisanal or “home made” foods, etc. Although it is not possible to draw reliable conclusions on the basis of a qualitative approach like this, we may make an attempt to raise hypotheses that can be tested in a following research based on a quantitative approach. Based on the analysis of interviews contents, the sensory and safety attributes seem to be more relevant to consumer choice for older participants (46-75 years) than younger (18-45 years), the latter paying more attention to environmental protection, animal welfare, absence of chemical preservatives or additives when they purchase organic food. This is presumably because childhood memories seem to be important for older participants, as they apparently serve as a “personal sensory-quality term of reference” when taste experiences of the childhood or former times are compared with nowadays sensory characteristics of food, suggesting that education and training on food taste may play a role in shifting preferences. However, basically sensory attributes still appear to be less important than other attributes such as environmental protection, animal welfare, absence of additives, etc., consumers take into account when purchasing and eating organic food. Consumers largely agree that organic food should be different from conventional ones in terms of shape, odour, colour, taste, texture, etc, but variety is also expected and between organic food themselves. Few consumers, however, also expect that organic food may mimic some successful branded products. Appea...

The role of sensory attributes in marketing organic food: findings from a qualitative study on Italian consumers

ASIOLI, DANIELE;CANAVARI, MAURIZIO;CASTELLINI, ALESSANDRA;LOMBARDI, PAMELA;PIGNATTI, ERIKA;SPADONI, ROBERTA
2010

Abstract

The organic food market is characterized by an uninterrupted growth during the past decade (Fibl, 2010; Spiller, 2006; Hamm and Gronefeld, 2004). Between 2006-2007, the organic food market in Europe is growing on average about 10% per year with an average per-capita spending of 27 Euros across all European countries (Padel et al., 2009). This increase is accompanied by challenges in market structures, distribution channels as well as differentiation of expectations and buying motives of organic food consumers. On this regard, the “hedonistic” motives for purchasing of organic food such as health, taste and wellness gained importance in comparison with the “altruistic” purchasing motives such as environmental protection and animal welfare. Therefore, some scientists pointed out that sensory attributes are important elements that should be taken into account in the marketing strategies by organic food distributors (Brennan and Kuri, 2002, Padel and Foster, 2005) than even before. On this regard, available literature lacks of empirical research investigating experiences and expectations of organic consumers which may support organic food producers, processors and distributors in drafting their marketing strategies. The objective of this paper is to explore in-depth sensory experiences, expectations and perceptions of organic consumers when purchasing and eating organic food, using qualitative marketing research techniques. The output of this research will be the identification of some key elements which may make researchers able to address further research and may provide useful recommendations to food industry practitioners interested in marketing organic food. Focus group interviews supported by semi-structured questionnaire were performed during 2009; five groups composed by 6-10 organic food consumers in different locations in Italy were invited to join group discussions focused on their approach to sensory characteristics of food. Each interview had a duration of about 1 hour has been video recorded. The interviews content was transcribed and then analyzed with the method of content analysis. The results indicate that some consumers still appear to be confused about the meaning of the term „organic food‟. The term is often associated with a set of desired features of food such as naturalness, freshness, but without any reference to the method of production, or with other types of niche products, such as artisanal or “home made” foods, etc. Although it is not possible to draw reliable conclusions on the basis of a qualitative approach like this, we may make an attempt to raise hypotheses that can be tested in a following research based on a quantitative approach. Based on the analysis of interviews contents, the sensory and safety attributes seem to be more relevant to consumer choice for older participants (46-75 years) than younger (18-45 years), the latter paying more attention to environmental protection, animal welfare, absence of chemical preservatives or additives when they purchase organic food. This is presumably because childhood memories seem to be important for older participants, as they apparently serve as a “personal sensory-quality term of reference” when taste experiences of the childhood or former times are compared with nowadays sensory characteristics of food, suggesting that education and training on food taste may play a role in shifting preferences. However, basically sensory attributes still appear to be less important than other attributes such as environmental protection, animal welfare, absence of additives, etc., consumers take into account when purchasing and eating organic food. Consumers largely agree that organic food should be different from conventional ones in terms of shape, odour, colour, taste, texture, etc, but variety is also expected and between organic food themselves. Few consumers, however, also expect that organic food may mimic some successful branded products. Appea...
Proceedings of the Special Symposium: Setting the Agenda for Food Marketing and Economics Research
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Asioli D.; Canavari M.; Castellini A.; de Magistris T.; Gottardi F.; Lombardi P.; Pignatti E.; Spadoni R.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/91002
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