By integrating the diffusion of innovation (DOI) theory, technology acceptance model (TAM), and social capital theory, the purpose of this paper is to: develop a model of consumer behavior and trial willingness toward nano-foods from product, consumer, and social perspectives; examine the effects of innovative features, consumer characteristics, and trust in authority on subjective perceptions (perceived trustworthiness and perceived benefit) as well as the social influence on attitudes toward nano-foods and trial willingness; examine the moderating role of product uncertainty on the relationship between these characteristics and subjective perceptions; and examine the effect of perceived benefit on perceived trustworthiness.
The results of the structural equation model (SEM), with nano-food knowledge data collected from 431 respondents, supported the research model and revealed the main effects hypothesized in this study and the moderating effect of product uncertainty. Simple slope analysis was further adopted to test the significant moderating effects.
The SEM results indicated that innovative characteristics (relative advantage, lack of observability, and novelty), consumer characteristics (perceived technology application), and social characteristics (trust in authority) affect perceived trustworthiness or perceived benefit. Social influence also has a direct effect on attitude toward nano-foods and trial willingness. Product uncertainty significantly moderates the relationship between characteristics (relative advantage and perceived technology application) and subjective perceptions (perceived trustworthiness and perceived benefit).
With increasing numbers and kinds of nanotechnology products now being developed and sold, it is important to go further to determine consumer perceptions and attitudes toward these. This study, thus, applied the DOI, TAM, and social capital theory to examine this issue. However, other theories might also be used to carry out research from other perspectives. This study should, thus, be seen as preliminary, and it is hoped that more works will discuss consumer attitudes toward nanotechnology products in the future.
When a new nano-food is introduced, the current study suggests that food manufacturers use the description on the package as a communicative tool. Detailing the advantages of nano-foods on food packages might be a useful way to enhance trial willingness and to reduce the fears and insecurities related to the use of nano-related products. In addition, if food manufacturers could cooperate with organizations or individuals seen as having some authority in this area (e.g. nanotechnology researchers) in order to disseminate accurate information about nanotechnology and related food products, this might be an effective way to increase sales and profits.
This is the first paper integrating the DOI, the social capital theory and the TAM to empirically investigate consumer willingness to try nano-food products.
Chang, H.H., Huang, C.Y., Fu, C.S. and Hsu, M.T. (2017), "The effects of innovative, consumer and social characteristics on willingness to try nano-foods: Product uncertainty as a moderator", Information Technology & People, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 653-690. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-10-2015-0266
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