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Decisional factors driving organic food consumption: Generation of consumer purchase intentions

Chih-Ching Teng (Department of Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management, Fu-Jen Catholic University, New Taipei City, Taiwan)
Yu-Mei Wang (Department of Business Administration, Asia University, Taichung, Taiwan)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 2 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand how information revealed on organic food labels and perceived organic knowledge drive consumer trust and attitudes towards organic foods, which in turn together with subjective norm eventually influence subsequent purchase intentions.

Design/methodology/approach

The questionnaire surveys were administered to customers at four urban large-scale supermarkets and three health food stores at three major cities in Taiwan. In total, 693 valid questionnaires were obtained, yielding a response rate of 81.5 per cent.

Findings

Trust, serving as the antecedent of attitudes, significantly mediates the relationships between revealing information, perceived knowledge, and organic purchase intentions. Additionally, both attitudes towards organic foods and subjective norm significantly influence consumer organic food choices. However, the impact of perceived organic knowledge on consumer attitudes has been found to be insignificant, indicating that the increase in perceived knowledge cannot create positive attitudes towards organic foods. Thus, a focus on how to use knowledge to enhance consumer trust in organic foods is suggested as an effective marketing strategy for the organic food industry.

Research limitations/implications

The research findings support that trust and attitudes play the mediating roles linking revealed information and perceived knowledge with organic food purchase intentions. This result is consistent with previous studies, indicating that better organic labeling information and related knowledge perceived by consumers have critical effects on consumer trust in organic foods, which in turn will influence their attitudes and intentions to purchase organic foods. However, this study also found that perceived knowledge can generate positive attitudes only when trust can be firmly built. This confirms the essential role of trust in the process of consumer organic buying intentions.

Practical implications

First, providing credible labeling information by displaying how organic agricultural products are grown, processed, and handled, and the percentage of organic ingredients in a product is crucial to stimulate consumer trust and positive attitudes. Second, enhancing consumer trust by providing correct knowledge and credible information through diversified channels (e.g. TV, newspapers, magazines, web sites) to improve consumer organic knowledge has become the most important task for the government, organic food sectors, certifiers, and research institutions to develop positive attitudes towards organic foods. Finally, organic food sectors and marketers could use a word-of-mouth strategy and focus on promoting the benefits and accessibility of organic foods to the general public to raise the common acceptance of organic foods.

Social implications

Organic labeling has been considered an effective measure to help consumers obtain valid and trustworthy information in the organic food market, particularly for those with limited knowledge. Therefore, the government agencies not only need to take the responsibility to set regulations for organic food/agricultural products, but also need to set labeling requirements for these products. Based on these labeling requirements, the organic certifying agents can certify organic food/agricultural products by offering organic labels that contain clear information and represent quality to consumers.

Originality/value

This study incorporates critical factors based on related theories, including the antecedents and the outcome variables of consumer trust, to develop a more comprehensive model for better understanding of consumer organic choice behaviour. The research findings have provided implications and additional contributions to the existing theories as well as developed effective strategies for the development of the organic food market.

Keywords

Citation

Teng, C.-C. and Wang, Y.-M. (2015), "Decisional factors driving organic food consumption: Generation of consumer purchase intentions", British Food Journal, Vol. 117 No. 3, pp. 1066-1081. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-12-2013-0361

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited