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Exploring purchasing preferences: local and ecologically labelled foods

Susan Cholette (SFSU, San Francisco, California, USA)
Özgür Özlük (SFSU, San Francisco, California, USA)
Leyla Özşen (SFSU, San Francisco, California, USA)
Gerardo R. Ungson (SFSU, San Francisco, California, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Publication date: 28 October 2013



The growing presence of foods that are labelled “locally/ecologically produced” leads to the question of how many consumers consider the impact of their food purchases. Do they value local/ecologically-produced food sufficiently to drive their purchasing behaviour, even if such foods are more costly? Can consumer segments be identified and, if so, what are their characteristics? This paper aims to focus on these questions.


In an exploratory study, the authors surveyed over 400 students from a public university in California asking them to select between apples based on a combination of price, origin and presence/absence of an ecological indicator. The authors collected information on their shopping attitudes, their affinity for international trade and demographic identifiers.


Evidence is found for three consumer segments: the deep green, the price conscious and switchers. The latter are the most prevalent category across demographic and attitudinal indicators, but with increased age, employment/shopping responsibilities, the preponderance of switchers diminishes and more deep green consumers appear. Deep green consumers tend to be both more information and variety seeking than the price conscious ones.


By identifying demographic and other characteristics that are likely to qualify consumers as belonging to a specific segment, marketers of local and ecologically produced foods can better target and influence appropriate consumers.



Cholette, S., Özlük, Ö., Özşen, L. and R. Ungson, G. (2013), "Exploring purchasing preferences: local and ecologically labelled foods", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 30 No. 7, pp. 563-572.



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