Socio-demographic control variables are added to food attitude analyses to improve the understanding of consumer preferences. However, socio-demographics can provide an incomplete picture of prospective buyers. Including other variables in a food analysis may offer businesses, researchers and policymakers more insights into consumer food preferences. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
An internet survey of 725 adults in the USA was used to examine interest in four food traits that may be included in marketing claims: antibiotic-free meat, Humanely-raised meat, produce that could be traced back to the farm and gluten-free food. Besides standard socio-demographics, environmental preferences, impulsive buying, religiosity, spirituality, privacy concerns and social desirability bias (SDB) measures were used to predict buyer interest.
Some standard socio-demographics (e.g. gender, age and income), green attitudes, impulsive traits and concern for information privacy were associated with preferences for three of the food attributes. These linkages can help define useful segments. The results for the fourth food trait, gluten-free, should generate additional medical research. In addition, the SDB measure was significant, suggesting that social norms may favour these traits.
The four food traits studied in this research appear to be growing in the market and have had limited attention in prior research. Many of the independent variables (e.g. green attitudes, impulsive traits, privacy concerns) included in the models provided more information about consumer preferences and may be helpful in other food studies. The findings on gluten-free products should receive further study.
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