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October 21, 2013

2 Min Read
Organic Consumers Motivated by Social, Personal Reasons

PULLMAN, Wash. Organic products purchased by consumers may be influenced by personal (egoistic) and environmental (altruistic) considerations, according to recent research published in the Journal of Advertising.

With more Americans eating smaller portions of food more frequently and placing a high priority on ensuring the food they eat is natural and organic, the new generation of snackers is revolving around healthy-ingredients snacks.

The purpose of the article conducted by researchers from Washington State University College of Business was to assist advertisers more effectively target the fast-growing organic food market.

We propose that organic purchases are not just made with the intention of benefiting ones self," said lead author Ioannis Kareklas, a WSU marketing assistant professor. Our paper provides evidence that advertising that highlights and addresses both personal (egoistic) and environmental (altruistic) concerns in tandem may be the most impactful in influencing consumer attitudes toward and intentions to purchase organic products."

The study consisted of three parts. the first two studies suggested that consumers' organic product purchases may be influenced by both egoistic and altruistic considerations. Consumers were more influenced by altruistic concerns when considering the purchase of green/organic products compared to conventional products. The third part of the study tested the effectiveness of various advertising promoting a new fictions brand of organic meat called "Gold Standard." The ads emphasized personal health, nutritional value, taste, cleaner water, humane treatment of livestock, community support and a combination of these egoistic and altruistic claims.

We found that the ad featuring both egoistic and altruistic appeals produced more favorable attitudes toward the brand and company and greater purchase intentions," said Kareklas.

Promotional messages tend to be evaluated more favorably when consistent with consumer's values, Kareklas said. Western cultures emphasize autonomy and individualism while Eastern Asian and Latin American countries prefer ads that focus on collective welfare.

However, research shows that egoistic and altruistic considerations coexist within all individuals.

Its important to view consumers organic food perceptions and buying tendencies in relation to self-concept," said Kareklas. Unlike previous research that often views the two self-views to be mutually exclusive and competing, we find that the goals of the independent and interdependent view of the self are complimentary influences in the context of organic/green purchase considerations."

The researchers suggest advertisers consider designing messages that relate to personal benefits and environmental benefits in tandem, taking note that synergies may be gained by emphasizing both.

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