The paper presents partial results from an Italian study on consumer perception and knowledge of organic food and related behaviour. Uses the means‐end chain model to link attributes of products to the needs of consumers. In order to provide insights into consumer motivation in purchasing organic products, 60 respondents were interviewed using “hard” laddering approach to the measurement of means‐end chains. The results (ladders) of these semi‐qualitative interviews are coded, aggregated and presented in a set of hierarchical structured value maps. Even if organic products are perceived as difficult to find and expensive, most consumers judge them positively. All consumers associate organic products with health at different levels of abstraction and want good, tasty and nourishing products, because pleasure and wellbeing are their most important values. Results show that differences exist between groups of consumers with respect to their frequency of use (experience) of organic products and level of information (expertise). Reports and discusses results on consumer cognitive structures at different level of experience.
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