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Consumer buying motives and attitudes towards organic food in two emerging markets: China and Brazil

John Thøgersen (Department of Business Administration, Aarhus University, School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus, Denmark)
Marcia Dutra de Barcellos (Business School, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil)
Marcelo Gattermann Perin (Business School, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil)
Yanfeng Zhou (Business School, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 11 May 2015




The purpose of this paper is to investigate if consumer buying motives regarding organic food in emerging economies China and Brazil are culture bound or determined by key characteristics of the product.


A survey was collected in Guangzhou, China, and Porto Alegre, Brazil. Data were analyzed by means of structural equation modeling, checking for measurement invariance between samples.


The reasons why Brazilian and Chinese consumers buy organic food are strikingly similar to what is found in Europe and North America. Consumers’ attitude toward buying organic food is strongly linked to beliefs about its healthiness, taste and environmental friendliness. Also, consumer attitudes toward buying organic food are positively related to what Schwartz’s “Universalism” values in all studied cultures.

Research limitations/implications

Correlational (survey) data do not allow conclusions about causality and conclusions are limited by the covered countries and products.

Practical implications

Key consumer value propositions with respect to organic food seem cross-culturally valid and universally accepted by a segment of customers that share these values. Hence, organic food can be marketed globally based on a universal set of key value propositions. The same could be true for other global products sharing similar types of certifiable value propositions.

Social implications

New insights of value for the cross-cultural marketing of “green” and ethical consumer products.


Fills a gap in research regarding the extent to which consumer purchase motives are culture bound or determined by the characteristics of the product.



The authors grateful for financial support for this research from the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71372153, 71072173) and the Ministry of Education of China (No. 13YJA630147) and grant from China Scholarship Council, the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and The Coordination for Enhancement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), Brazil. The authors grateful to PhD student Alexia Hoppe for collection of the Brazilian survey and Professor Luciana Marques Vieira (UNISINOS) for hosting the Brazilian research and making the data available.


Thøgersen, J., de Barcellos, M.D., Perin, M.G. and Zhou, Y. (2015), "Consumer buying motives and attitudes towards organic food in two emerging markets: China and Brazil", International Marketing Review, Vol. 32 No. 3/4, pp. 389-413.



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