To examine consumers' beliefs about organic foods and their relationship with socio‐demographics and self‐transcendence (universal, benevolence) personal values.
A random questionnaire‐based mail survey of 500 Australian (Victorian) adults (58 per cent response) was used. The questionnaire included items on organic food beliefs, the importance of self‐transcendence values as guiding principles in life, and socio‐demographics. Statistical analyses included cross‐tabulations of organic food beliefs by socio‐demographics and multiple regression analyses of positive organic food beliefs with personal value and socio‐demographic items as the independent variables.
The majority of participants believed organic food to be healthier, tastier and better for the environment than conventional food. However, expense and lack of availability were strong barriers to the purchasing of organic foods. Generally, women were more positive about organic food than men (e.g. women were more likely to agree that organic food has more vitamins/minerals than conventional food). The personal value factor related to nature, environment and equality was the dominant predictor of positive organic food beliefs, followed by sex. These predictors accounted for 11 per cent of the variance.
A survey response bias needs to be taken into account. However, the response rate was adequate for reporting and differences in age and education between participants and the Victorian population were taken into account in data presentation. Future understanding of consumers' use of organic foods will require the inclusion of a fairly extensive set of potential influences.
Communication appeals based on psychographics may be a more effective way to alter consumers' beliefs about organic foods than those based on demographic segmentation.
To the best of one's knowledge, this is the first study to examine the relationship between personal values, socio‐demographics and organic food beliefs in a random population sample. This study is relevant to producers, processors and retailers of organic food and those involved with food and agricultural policy.
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