Attitude Behavior Gaps: Investigating Switching Amongst Organic Consumers

Joanna Henryks, David Pearson

    Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


    The organic sector is one of the fastest growing food markets in the developed world and it would appear that a significant number of consumers continue to prioritize healthy products that are ethically and sustainably sourced in their weekly shopping baskets. The significant body of existing research has identified who buys organic products and that health and environment are important to them. Further, the main barriers to purchase are associated with price premiums and limited availability for some customers. This literature has also identified that very few customers are dedicated organic food buyers and hence most purchase it only some of the time. This paper fills a gap in the literature by examining the large segment of consumers who switch between buying organic and conventional food. In the process of exploring the reasons and motivations behind this behavior it was evident that it was necessary to understand the consumer in their purchase context. Using a grounded theory approach this is examined through the development of a unique conceptual framework. This shows that whilst consumers frequently express their positive attitude towards organic products unique aspects of the purchase context mean that positive attitudes do not always translate to organic purchases. As such, this research contributes to understanding of the attitude behavior gap. The major contribution from this paper is the development of a conceptual framework that explains the switching behavior for organic food buyers. The framework identifies various factors that influence whether or not organic food is bought. This framework includes three contextual layers that have been labeled background factors, situational factors and point of purchase factors. Depending on the specific situation, these factors influence buyers to different extents and hence their collective impact determines whether that individual purchases organic food on a given shopping event. It is, however, important to note that the purpose of this framework is to present the various factors in a useful schematic; further research is required to investigate whether there is a hierarchy of importance, or a logical sequence that buyers follow. This conceptual framework has potential applications to other areas of consumer buyer theory where a gap exists between consumer positive attitude to a product or service, but this does not translate into consistent purchases (or behavior). Consequently we believe that this switcher framework provides much scope for further research in a variety of other consumer choice contexts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationConference Proceedings Part 2: International Food Marketing Research Symposium 2013
    EditorsJohn Stanton, Mark Lang, Vasa Laszlo
    Place of PublicationPhiladelphia, USA
    PublisherInstitute of Food Products Marketing
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Print)9780985608019
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    EventInternational Food Marketing Research Symposium 2013 - Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
    Duration: 20 Jun 201321 Jun 2013


    ConferenceInternational Food Marketing Research Symposium 2013


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