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Does quality really matter? Variables that drive postmodern consumer choices

Nicola Marinelli (GESAAF, University of Florence, Florence, Italy)
Mariarosaria Simeone (DEMM, University of Sannio, Benevento, Italy)
Debora Scarpato (Department of Economic and Law Studies, University of Naples "Parthenope", Naples, Italy)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 9 March 2015



The purpose of this paper is to provide insights into the factors that affect consumer choices for both policymakers and food companies.


Four hundred questionnaires were administered in the city of Florence (Tuscany, Italy). Data analysis was carried out according to a two-step procedure in a multivariate statistical framework: in the first stage, a multiple correspondence analysis was performed; in the second step, the single-link (nearest neighbour) cluster analysis allowed three homogeneous groups of consumers to be identified on the basis of their specific socio-demographic characteristics.


Three consumer clusters were obtained: the first, “critical but non-philanthropic consumers”, who may have pathologies that require a particular diet; the second, “marginally critical consumers”, for whom freshness, the label and the assortment count for much; the third, “agnostic consumers”, who choose a product according to its origin and the price/quality relationship, while ethical aspects, health claims or information on the use are not considered as important.

Social implications

From the results it may be deduced that although recent regulations will lead to greater transparency, in many respects consumers may not be able to grasp aspects of higher quality from the label among competing products.


The results seem to run contrary to the trends identified in other studies with regard to critical and socially responsible production attributes. Except in cases where consumers are sensitised by the presence of food-related diseases encountered within their own family, they may not be able to grasp higher-quality aspects from the label among competing products. From the results it is evident that both educational and generational issues come into play with regard to food choices, closely linked to the media from which information is obtained.



Marinelli, N., Simeone, M. and Scarpato, D. (2015), "Does quality really matter? Variables that drive postmodern consumer choices", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 255-269.



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