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Word associations with “organic”: what do consumers think of?

Femke Hilverda (Department of Psychology of Conflict, Risk and Safety, Universiteit Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands)
Manon Jurgens (Department of Psychology of Conflict, Risk and Safety, Universiteit Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands)
Margot Kuttschreuter (Department of Psychology of Conflict, Risk and Safety, Universiteit Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 5 December 2016

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the word associations that consumers have with organic food, organic meat or organic vegetables, and how these associations differ between food type and consumer groups. Construal-level theory was used as a theoretical framework to interpret the associations. In addition, consumer groups were compared on psychological distance, values, age, and gender.

Design/methodology/approach

Two studies were performed. In Study 1, a sample of 154 participants filled out the words that came to their mind when thinking of organic food, organic meat or organic vegetables, and psychological distance and values were measured. In Study 2 these words were rated on centrality by an independent sample (n=52).

Findings

Consumers think of animal welfare, price, health, pesticides, and naturalness the most when thinking of organic. The environment, health, honesty, pesticides, sustainability, quality, natural, additives, origin, certification, and taste were central across organic food, organic meat, and organic vegetables. Thinking of organic meat showed consumers’ concern for animal welfare, while thinking of organic vegetables showed concern for human health. Consumer groups differed regarding psychological distance, values, gender, and age. Consumers who frequently bought organic food were more positive about organic food products compared to consumers who occasionally or hardly ever bought organic food products.

Originality/value

This research extends the scope of current consumer research about organic food and provides new insight in the word associations consumers have with organic food products.

Keywords

Citation

Hilverda, F., Jurgens, M. and Kuttschreuter, M. (2016), "Word associations with “organic”: what do consumers think of?", British Food Journal, Vol. 118 No. 12, pp. 2931-2948. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-05-2016-0229

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited