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Organic food industry is trending with blooming profits and market revenues. Many reasons have emerged for this growth in the industry: health conscious consumers, more awareness due to globalization, increased access to newer products and health variants of conventional food, environment protection and animal welfare concerns, and ethical motives. The practice of companies targeting the ‘ecological consumers’ who can
pay a premium for organic food is more than what it was five years ago. The increase in eco-friendly people along with the shift from a ‘producer-oriented market’ to a ‘consumer-oriented market’ is signalling an increase in the demand of organic food. Extant research has shown varied results in terms of health
consciousness, food safety concerns, gender differences, and ecological awareness. However, there are limitations and gaps in them like small sample size, rural and suburban difference, varied age differences, and vague assumptions to list a few.

In the current research, these gaps are fulfilled by testing a sample of over 4000 participants on the effects of subjective-norms, moral-norms, gender difference, and attitude on intentions to purchase organic tomatoes. The findings suggested that people tend to act based on their subjective-norms more than their moral-norms. In short, people would intend to buy more organic food if they see others (whom they value) buy it. Another interesting finding of this study highlighted the close difference between men and women for intention to purchase organic tomatoes. Even though women had a higher result to buy organic food, men were not far behind. Lastly, attitude of the population was tested. As many researchers have previously noted, the attitude has a large effect on intention behaviour. Companies that are looking to capture the ecological
consumers should look out to these findings and plan their marketing activities opportunistically to increase their revenues and profits.

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  1. 1. Social-factors and our intentions a study on organic food consumption By Ananya Jain, MLitt in Marketing Under the guidance of: Dr. Boyka Bratanova, Consumer Behaviour and Market Research INTRODUCTION As people are becoming more health-conscious than ever before, the organic food industry is soaring. The Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) defines organic food as follows: ‘Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation’. Organic food industry is trending with a worldwide market of $80b (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, FiBL, 2017). The Global Organic Food & Beverages Market is poised to grow at a CAGR of around 16.6% over the next decade to reach approximately $456b by 2025 (PR Newswire, 2017). With this, the companies wish to sell their products to ecologically aware consumers who are willing to pay the premium price for organic food. Several reasons are proposed from studies in different parts of the world, these are: health concerns, ethical, moral, political or religious motives, quality or safety of conventional food, environmental considerations, and personal values (Michaelidou, N., & Hassan, L. M., 2008). With globalization taking place rapidly, consumers are gaining more exposure and awareness about different products and trends giving birth to ‘global brands’ and ‘global consumers’ (Sheth, J., 1986). This has resulted in more health-consciousness and food safety concerns along with expansion of green products at a fast-moving pace. Increased awareness about environmental issues and animal diseases, consumers are now worried about the impact of environmental damage on their health and safety. Marketers are now incorporating this change in the consumer perspective in their decision making (Coddington, W., 1993). Such concerns motivate a segment of organic food consumer as part of a healthy lifestyle while also being eco- friendly thereby being an ‘ecological consumer’. Additionally, gender, education, and financial status are significant factors for building a profile of the ecological consumer. (Paul, J., & Rana, J., 2012). The change in attitude towards organic food was initially seen at a political level first in Europe followed by North America and Japan, as a response to the growing interest due to the serious problems caused by a dominant world-view underlying the technological theories and methodology such as over- production, environmental-pollution, food-scare, and depopulation of rural areas (Lockeretz, W., 2007; Padel, S. and Lampkin, N.H., 2007). These studies have helped in understanding organic food consumption over the years.
  2. 2. PAST RESEARCH Main Articles 1. The role of health consciousness, food safety concern, and ethical identity on attitudes and intentions towards organic food- Nina Michaelidou & Louise M. Hassan, 2008 2. Consumer behaviour and purchase intention for organic food- Justin Paul & Jyoti Rana, 2012 Extant research shows varied results for factors affecting organic food consumption pattern. The first study focuses on the impact of health-consciousness, food safety concerns, and ethical identity on intention and consumer attitude towards organic food. It is stated that either the consumers perceive organic food as a healthier alternative (more nutritious) which enhances their personal well-being or are concerned about environmental sensitivity and animal-welfare. The study indicates that food safety concern appears to be one of the most important factors of attitude, but not intention (mostly over residues in food from fertilizers, artificial additives, preservatives, and chemical sprays). Additionally, the research reveals that ethical self-identity has a stronger influence on the purchase intention while health-consciousness is the least important motive shaping attitude towards organic food in relation to other motives. This is surprising since most health-conscious people take a healthy and nutritious diet which includes a lot of organic food. It suggests that consumers do not perceive much difference between organic and inorganic food in regards of taste, shelve life, quality, and overall perceived-value. Although the respondents are alert to changes and responsible for their health, they associate fewer health benefits (e.g. health-preservation and health- improvement) with negligible influence on purchase decision. However, there are several limitations of this research: first, one-third of the respondents in the sample tested are aged 16 below, living at home, which refers to a possibility that they are not the actual buyers, merely the end consumers of organic food. Second, there is a steep chance of the presence of aspect of ‘social desirability’ wherein the respondents might have answered in a way to present themselves in good- light when participating in research (Crowne & Marlowe, 1964; Paulhus & Reid, 1991) as the researchers based their study on self-completion questionnaires. The respondents were called to participate from the main ferry randomly with almost every fifth person being a part of it irrespective of their age. Third, the Island of Arran has one supermarket and a collection of smaller retail outlets making organic food less accessible to the consumers since organic foods are known to have a shorter shelve-life, thus small retailers might be reluctant to stock it (Michaelidou, N., & Hassan, L. M., 2008). And fourth, the sample size of this study is small for generalization and there is difference between rural and urban populations’ purchase behaviour. All these gaps in the study call for a more comprehensive research in the factors that influence purchase intentions of organic food consumers.
  3. 3. The second study establishes that ideal target segment for corporations wishing to sell their organic food is the ecological consumer having an ecological lifestyle who is ecologically aware. In short, they refer to true-blue greens and greenback greens who are inclined to purchase organic food because of their ethical self, however it depends on their willingness to spend (The Roper Organization and S.C. Johnson & Sons, 1990). The research focuses on various factors that influence the intention of consumers to purchase organic food: Demographic factors (Income, Age, Gender, Education), Health benefits (Deterioration in human health, investment in good health), and Availability (growing in large retail outlets and supermarkets). Unlike the first study, this research reports that health content came first in consumers’ mind over the environment protection, satisfying tastes, organic choice attitude, and status in the society. The intention of purchasing organic food is influenced by the demographic profile of the consumers (education and location). The study also found that 50.8% of the participants seek the overall-benefit (healthy content, environmental friendly packaging, and environment friendly technology) from organic food. Consequently, the researchers also try to study the difference in satisfaction derived from organic and inorganic food. They suggest that the overall-satisfaction of both is not the same, in fact, the mean with organic food indicated high satisfaction level. 70.3% respondents thought that organic food is costlier than inorganic food but 67% of the respondents do not mind paying a higher price for eco-friendly and healthy contents. The major reasons for not purchasing organic food were: non-availability followed by high price, taste, and lack of knowledge. The population for this research study were mostly residents of Delhi National Capital Region, India. With that being stated, there are certain limitations, first, the research was based on the obtained questionnaires of respondents aged 25 above as the researchers assumed that people below the age of 25 do not generally buy grocery products. This is a farce assumption since in India the minimum age of marriage is quite low: 18 for women and 21 for men (Mortimer, C., 2015) thereby resulting in young adults being the main buyers of groceries in the households. Second, most of the respondents surveyed had monthly income less than INR 30,000 (£360) which is quite low for including organic food in their monthly groceries. Third, the sample size for this study was 301 participants which is quite less to generalize the effect for the whole. With these gaps in the research and vague assumptions, there is a need for a thorough revaluation. It raises concerns over the validity of the findings for a larger population. There is a need for a more comprehensive research study that considers all the above-mentioned limitations and is free from these assumptions and biases.
  4. 4. PRESENT RESEARCH Current study and Research question In the present study, we consider a dataset on organic tomatoes since it is consumed widely fruit and is bought by most of the population as a part of their everyday household groceries. The main aim of the study is to examine the social factors that influence the intention of consumers to purchase organic tomatoes. With this, our research question is: Do varied human social factors make an impact on the intentions to purchase organic tomatoes and hence organic food? Development of research hypothesis Many human factors can influence peoples’ intentions to purchase organic tomatoes but for our study, we are focusing on: Subjective-Norms Subjective norm is "the perceived social pressure to perform or not to perform the behaviour" in question (Ajzen, 1991). Basically, how people think others (whom they value) would want them to perform? Such individuals tend to be more self-conscious to meet the expectations of others. We wish to see the effect of how people think others perceive their actions on the intention to purchase organic tomatoes: H1: Subjective-norms are positively related to purchase intentions. Moral-Norms The World Medical Association defined “morality” as the value dimension of human decision-making and behaviour. Morals can be understood with words like rights, responsibilities, virtues, good/bad/evil, right/wrong, just/unjust. Morality is shaped by the rules given by those with authority or role models, whether people agree with them or not. Basically, morals are unarguable (Pitak-Arnnop, P., Dhanuthai, K., Hemprich, A., & Pausch, N., 2012). We wish to see the effects of moral-norms on peoples’ intention to purchase organic tomatoes. Do people who consider themselves to be ‘ethical’ in nature show that kind of a behaviour? H2: Moral-norms are positively related to purchase intentions. Gender Differences Studies show that women are more inclined to purchase organic food as most ecological consumers are well-educated, young women, who have more money to spend. For them, the green products should satisfy their needs as they are conscious about the environmental claims and are ready to pay a
  5. 5. premium price for it (Mostafa, M.M., 2007). We want to test the gender difference in our population and see their intention to purchase organic tomatoes. H3: Gender difference is positively related to attitude. Purchase intention of women is higher than that of men. Attitude & Intentions Past research shows that attitude has a strong correlational relationship with behavioural intention in multiple contexts (e.g. Sparks et al., 1995; Shaw and Shiu, 2002). In the context of organic food purchase, we wish to see the effect of attitude on purchase intentions. H4: Attitude is positively linked with intentions to purchase organic tomatoes. Data Collection The data was collected from 4305 European respondents residing in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Germany, Spain, and United Kingdom. Approximately 2% (¬86) of the total questionnaires were irrelevant for the study because of various incomplete answers. The sample age group was 18-96 years out of which 355 participants were above 70 years old, and 88 participants were between the ages of 18-20. Out of the vast sample, 147 people had no formal schooling background. 35% of the respondents (1500 people) lived in a family of 3 members. With this, 1100 participants fall under the mid category (based on pre-tax household income). 1471 respondents buy organic tomatoes once a week which is good for testing our research hypothesis. Measures and Data Analysis All elements are measured with multi-item scales and to reduce the effects of response-bias, each of the measures included several negatively worded items, which were reverse-coded prior to scale construction. The elements tested are based on human sociology and how different factors impact purchase intention and decision making. The questionnaires were thoroughly checked and sorted. The data was entered in Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 24. Various statistical tools and techniques were used to analyse the data including: Correlation, Independent Sample T test, and Linear Regression.
  6. 6. RESULT Influence of subjective-norms (H1) The research shows that the preference for organic food could be affected by subjective-norms. A Pearson product-moment correlation was run to determine the relationship. There was a strong correlation between subjective-norms and purchase intention, which was statistically significant (r=0.619, n=4280, p<0.005). It can be interpreted from the test (TABLE 1) that the subjective-norms (what other people whom I value think of my action) are positively associated with the intentions to purchase organic food. People who are under pressure of subjective-norms, often intend to purchase organic food. Influence of moral-norms (H2) A linear regression was tested between intentions (dependent/outcome variable) and moral-norms (independent/predictor variable). It establishes that F(4282)=2692.60, p<0.001; intentions accounted for 38.6%, since R2=0.386 which is not impactful (TABLE 2). This indicates that intentions are positively but not significantly related to moral-norms. So, there is a 38.6% possibility of people intending to purchase organic tomatoes due to their moral-norms. The regression equation was: predicted intention = 0.718 + 0.917 moral-norms.
  7. 7. Influence of Gender difference (H3) The study found that men had statistically significant lower intention to purchase organic tomatoes than women (TABLE 3). The independent sample t test revealed p=0.000. The mean of men (4.035) is lower than women (4.398). However, since the difference is not much, we can state that there is a market for men as well. Influence of attitude on intention (H4) We did a linear regression test to find the effect of attitude (independent/predictor variable) on intention (dependent/outcome variable). We report that the adjusted R2=0.444, meaning that there is a 44.4% possibility of people intending to purchase organic tomatoes if they have a positive attitude about it (TABLE 4). The test established that F(4282)=3414.276, p<0.001. The regression equation was: predicted intention = 0.788 + 0.955 attitude.
  8. 8. Discussion The study found that subjective-norms, moral-norms, and attitudes are positively linked with intentions to purchase organic food (TABLE 5). People are affected by their surroundings and their social-identity (r=0.619) more than their ethical self (r2 =0.386). This is interesting because they value what others think about their actions more than what they should do. Another finding suggests that women are more pro-active when it comes to buying organic food than men however, the difference between both is minimal (d=0.37) denoting that men are not far behind! The research in our study contributes to the overall subject of social factors affecting purchase intention of organic food. From a marketing perspective, companies should focus more on advertising and selling the overall package rather than just the product. They should touch peoples’ emotions by highlighting aspects that can trigger subjective-norms and moral-norms. We strongly suggest companies and marketers to focus on attracting men through their communication tools since they are not far behind when it comes to purchase and consumption of organic food. Probably, lack of knowledge is one factor that affects the purchase decision. SUMMARY Organic food industry is trending with blooming profits and market revenues. Many reasons have emerged for this growth in the industry: health conscious consumers, more awareness due to globalization, increased access to newer products and health variants of conventional food, environment protection and animal welfare concerns, and ethical motives. The practice of companies targeting the ‘ecological consumers’ who can pay a premium for organic food is more than what it was five years ago. The increase in eco-friendly people along with the shift from a ‘producer-oriented market’ to a ‘consumer-oriented market’ is signalling an increase in the demand of organic food. Extant research has shown varied results in terms of health- consciousness, food safety concerns, gender differences, and ecological awareness. However, there are
  9. 9. limitations and gaps in them like small sample size, rural and suburban difference, varied age differences, and vague assumptions to list a few. In the current research, these gaps are fulfilled by testing a sample of over 4000 participants on the effects of subjective-norms, moral-norms, gender difference, and attitude on intentions to purchase organic tomatoes. The findings suggested that people tend to act based on their subjective-norms more than their moral-norms. In short, people would intend to buy more organic food if they see others (whom they value) buy it. Another interesting finding of this study highlighted the close difference between men and women for intention to purchase organic tomatoes. Even though women had a higher result to buy organic food, men were not far behind. Lastly, attitude of the population was tested. As many researchers have previously noted, the attitude has a large effect on intention behaviour. Companies that are looking to capture the ecological consumers should look out to these findings and plan their marketing activities opportunistically to increase their revenues and profits.
  10. 10. References Ajzen, I. (1991). The Theory of Planned Behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179-211. Coddington, W. (1993), Environmental Marketing – Positive Strategies for Reaching the Green Consumer, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY. Crowne, D. P., & Marlowe, D. The approval motive. New York: Wiley. Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-environment-food-rural-affairs FiBL, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture. (2017, February 9). The World of Organic Agriculture 2017 [Press release]. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from https://www.ifoam.bio/sites/default/files/press-release-world-2017-english.pdf Lockeretz, W. (2007). Organic farming: an international history. Wallingford: CABI. doi:10.1079/9780851998336.0001 Markets, R. A. (2017, February 24). Global Organic Food & Beverages Market Analysis & Trends 2013-2017 & Industry Forecast to 2025: $456 Billion Market Opportunities and Recommendations for New Investments - Research and Markets. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-organic-food--beverages-market- analysis--trends-2013-2017--industry-forecast-to-2025-456-billion-market-opportunities-and-recommendations-for-new- investments---research-and-markets-300413313.html Michaelidou, N., & Hassan, L. M. (2008). The role of health consciousness, food safety concern and ethical identity on attitudes and intentions towards organic food. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 32(2), 163-170. doi:10.1111/j.1470-6431.2007.00619.x Mortimer, C. (2015). World minimum marriage age: Chart shows the lowest age you can legally get married around the world. Available: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/the-lowest-age-you-can-legally-get-married-around-the- world-10415517.html. Last accessed 27th Oct 2017. Mostafa, M.M. (2007), “Gender differences in Egyptian consumers green purchase behaviour: the effects of environmental knowledge, concern and attitude”, International Journal of Consumer Studies, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 220-9. Padel, S. and Lampkin, N.H. (2007), “The development of governmental support for organic farming in Europe”, in Lockeretz, W. (Ed.), Organic Farming: An International History, CABI, Wallingford, pp. 93-122. Paul, J., & Rana, J. (2012). Consumer Behavior and Purchase Intention of Organic Food. SSRN Electronic Journal, 29(6), 412- 422. doi:10.1108/07363761211259223 Paulhus, D. L., & Reid, D. B. (1991). Enhancement and denial in socially desirable responding. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 307-317. Pitak-Arnnop, P., Dhanuthai, K., Hemprich, A., & Pausch, N. (2012). Morality, ethics, norms and research misconduct. Journal of Conservative Dentistry, 15(1), 92. doi:10.4103/0972-0707.92617 Shaw, D.S. & Shiu, E. (2002) The role of ethical obligation and self-identity in ethical consumer choice. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 26, 109–116. Sheth, J. (1986). GLOBAL MARKETS OR GLOBAL COMPETITION?. Journal of Consumer Marketing, [online] 3(2), pp.9-11. Available at: http://www.uwyo.edu/sustainable/recent-research/docs/global%20consumer%20culture%20arnould.pdf [Accessed 28 Oct. 2017]. Sparks, P., Shepherd, R. & Frewer, L.J. (1995) Assessing and structuring attitudes towards the use of gene technology in food production: the role of perceived ethical obligation. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 16, 267–285. (The) Roper Organization and S.C. Johnson & Sons (1990), The Environment: Public Attitudes and Behaviour, Roper Organization and S.C.Johnson & Sons, New York, NY. Schifferstein, H.N.J. and Oude Ophuis, P.A.M. (1998), “Health-related determinants of organic food consumption in The Netherlands”, Food Qual Prefer, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 119-33.

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