Consumer Perception of Local and Organic Products: Substitution or Complementary Goods?
Many consumers are interested in local products because of the perceived benefits of freshness, stronger taste and higher quality. To consumers the origin attribute represents a strong purchasing criterion. With respect to organic produce, local food product may be perceived either as substitutes or as complementary. A qualitative approach to data collection (focus groups) and to data processing (content analysis) has been used to analyse Italian consumers’ perception with respect to local and organic food products. In the framework of the EU project QLIF (FP6-506358) a discussion guide to focus group interview was used in order to identify important purchase criteria, the willingness to pay, as well as the role of organic food products in purchasing criteria. Two animal – yogurt and eggs – and two non animal products – bread and tomatoes – were taken into account. Focus groups interviews indicate that Italian consumers place much importance on the local origin of food products, especially if fresh consumed. The origin with its implication of seasonality, territoriality and localness are among the major motivating and trust factors, however not always linked to organic food products. The lack of availability of local and organic food products together with retailing issues are taken into consideration. Differentiation throughout animal and non-animal products and between processed food products and commodities is analysed. Organic seems to suffer in global markets, localness may suggest a solution. The research provides insights on substitution and complementary marketing strategies.
Keywords: Local Products, Organic Food, Food Quality and Safety, Proximity, Focus Groups, Cultural Preferences
Researcher Assistant, National Institute of Agricultural Economics
Dr. Simona Naspetti
Senior Researcher Assistant, Polytechnic University of Marche