The purpose of the paper is to explore organic food consumer's
profile in terms of motivations, trust orientations and point of sale
behaviour. The paper draws on data from a survey with regular and
occasional consumers of organic food. The findings highlight three main
trust orientations related to brand and store, prior experiences, and
uncertainty. Further, results show that there is positive relationship
between consumers' motivations, their trust orientations, and the
choice of points of sale. Those trust orientations appear to be good
discriminators between regular and non-regular consumers. Lastly, age,
gender, satisfaction, choice of point of sale, and monthly spending are
good predictors of the profile of typical organic food consumers.
Keywords: Organic food, Trust, Motivations, Points of sale,
The organic market is a niche market within the agricultural
industry and originated approximately 15 years ago. The organic food
(OF) industry is being revamped because the organic farming
"industry" eliminates a number of concerns that consumers hold
towards conventional food production. Growing demand for OF products has
also been attributed to a response to food-scares including widespread
concern and resistance to the introduction of genetically modified
organisms in the food chain. The OF industry integrates all aspect of a
pesticide-fertilizer free production process using specific standards
and is subject to a rigorous certification system. Since the mid-1990s,
Canadian organic food retail sales in dollar value have been growing at
a rate of 20% per annum. At the same time, conventional food retail
sales have only grown at a 3% to 4% annual rate (MacRae et al., 2002).
In relation to growth potential of consumer demand, many surveys
have identified and ranked motivations for buying organic food.
Consumers purchase OF mainly for the following reasons: OF is seen as
healthier and more nutritious, no chemicals are used, tastes better than
conventional food, and organic farming is kinder to the environment
(Fotopoulos and Kryskallis, 2002; Larue et al., 2004; Wier and
Calverley, 2002). More generally, drivers for OF consumption in term of
life values fall into three main broad categories ranked as follow:
values centered on the human being, on the environment, and on
animals' well being. However, there is some indication that the
importance of these motivations may vary depending on the type of
consumers, as well as desires, willingness to pay a premium price, and
point of sale preferences (Hamzaoui and Zahaf, 2006).
Overall, consumers have strong concerns about risks associated to
food consumption, leading them to adopt risk reduction strategies (like
brand loyalty, store image, etc.), all related to information search. In
order to reduce the perceived risks linked to food consumption,
consumers will use these strategies, or quality indicators, depending on
how much they trust them. However, when it comes to OF, there is a need
to uncover which quality indicators consumers trust the most, and to
what extend the use of those indicators vary with the type of OF
Since there are specific motivations but also quality issues
associated to OF consumption, this study aims to understand why
consumers buy OF in relation to the importance of the level and nature
of their trust orientations. We aim in this paper to address the
i. determine the different trust orientations with regards to the
OF labelling, OF brands, and points of sale,
ii. profile organic food consumers using their trust orientations
and motivation to buy organic products,
iii. explore the relationship between consumers' level of
trust and their motivations.
This allows us to not only profile consumers with regard to their
trust orientations and motivations but also to contrast between the
different groups of organic food consumers.
The paper opens with an overview of the literature on organic food
and the consumer, followed by the research hypothesis. Next, the
methodology and results of our empirical research are detailed. Then the
discussion section comments on the major findings. Finally, the
concluding part summarises the major points of the study and presents
future areas of research.
Organic Food Consumers' Profile
The issues of profiling OF consumers is rather a mature field in
Europe with a well established literature (eg. Makatouni, 2002; Verdurm
et al., 2002; Baker et al., 2004; Zanoli and Naspetti, 2002). Several
studies indeed segment OF consumers on the basis of: attitudes toward OF
and purchase intentions, demographic factors, food-related lifestyles,
and frequency of purchase. Based on these segmentations, scholars have
profiled organic buyers to describe who they are and what their purchase
intentions are (cf. Davies et al., 1995; Fotopoulos and Krystallis,
2002; Roddy et al., 1994). Some studies agree on the socio-demographic
profile of organic food buyers: they are mainly women, buying in larger
quantities and more frequently than men. Although age is not an
important factor, younger consumers show a higher willingness to buy due
to their greater environmental concerns but cannot always afford it.
More specifically, Cunningham (2001) characterizes the Canadian organic
consumer profile based on the findings from the Environics International
Food Issues Monitor Survey 2000 and the Canadian Healthfood Association
Survey 2000. Cunningham (2001) reports that a total of 71% of Canadians
have at least tried OFs. Among those people who have tried organics, 18%
are frequent buyers, 22% are infrequent buyers and 31% are occasional
buyers. However, these findings provide just a general description of OF
consumer's profile without digging into the "why" and
"how" they make their purchase decisions. Further, based on
his observation of the OF industry, Tutunjian (2004) notices that OF
consumers share attitudes and values rather than demographics (cf.
Brunso and Grunert, 1998; Brunso et al., 2004; Cunningham, 2001; Davies
et al., 1995; Fotopoulos and Krystallis, 2002; Roddy et al., 1994).
Most consumers express more than one motive for buying organic food
(Baker et al., 2004; Hamzaoui and Zahaf, 2006; Padel and Foster, 2005;
Zanoli and Naspetti, 2002). Studies conducted with UK, German, and
Italian OF consumers highlight life values that fall into three main
broad categories: values centered on the human being, on the
environment, and on animals' well being (Baker et al., 2004;
Makatouni, 2002; Zanoli and Naspetti, 2002). Although similarities
emerge with respect to main values between the three studies, the
dominant perceptual orientations of UK, German, and Italian OF consumers
differ widely. Issues of food quality but also "eating to
enjoy" are important motivations for OF consumption in Greece and
in Italy (Fotopoulos et al., 2002; Zanoli and Naspetti, 2002). Verdurme
et al. (2002) enforce these results by showing that cultural differences
cause consumers in different countries to have various perceptions and
motivations with regard to OF. Cultural differences lead consumers of
various countries not only to have various values, but also various
means of reaching these values at the time of their purchase decisions.
More generally, the level of development of the OF market is also
regarded as being able to influence the ranking of the motivations for
organic food purchase (Lampkin, 1992). In the Canadian context consumers
identify health, the environment, and the support of the local farmers
as being their principal values explaining their organic food
consumption (Hamzaoui and Zahaf, 2006). Interestingly, a social
responsible behaviour motivating consumers is to support local farmers,
which is sustained in only few previous research works on organic food
consumption, mentioned as "support for the local economy".
In relation to health, organic products are perceived as less
associated with health risks than their conventional counterparts
(Williams and Hammit, 2001). Health protection still remains for
numerous consumers the main motivation for buying organic food. Personal
experience with ill health but also more general concerns about healthy
eating are observed, the latter being mainly affected by overall trends
in consumption (Padel and Foster, 2005). Moreover, OF consumption is
also associated more with chemicals avoidance than nutritional benefits
(Hamzaoui and Zahaf, 2006). Consumers' desire to maximize their
personal health and wellbeing highlights an important motivation: the
need of reinsurance. This implies that consumers search for several
indicators to reduce the perceived risks linked to food consumption.
Perceived Risk and Perceived Quality
With the intensification of the agricultural production and the
food industrialization, more and more consumers are preoccupied by the
effects of industrial products and food technologies, leading to strong
concerns about risks associated to the consumption of these products.
Consequently, research on perceived risk in food consumption has been
relaunched (Bergadaa and Urien, 2006; Brunel and Pichon, 2002; Green et
al., 2005). Food consumption is closely related to physical risk that is
a major risk (Gallen, 2001), and therefore OF seem to present less risks
than their conventional counterparts in terms of health. Moreover,
consumers will look for risk reduction indicators or strategies through
information search when they are in a dubious situation. Risk reduction
strategies have been widely studied (Roselius, 1971; Gallen, 2001;
Brunel, 2003; Bergadaa and Urien, 2006), and among these strategies are:
positive evaluation of the brand, loyalty to the brand, point of sale
image, government labels, refund guarantee, and quality information.
In food consumption, the perceived quality is a central piece, and
is evaluated by consumers on several dimensions. Perceived quality is
influenced by quality indicators (Olson, 1977) such as intrinsic
(appearance, shape, size, etc.) and extrinsic (price, brand name,
origin, and point of sale). Perceived quality is also influenced by
consumer experiences and more importantly by the trust consumers have
toward the quality indicators and their sources (Gurviez, 2001). In
their study, Brunel and Pichon (2002) specify that some risk reduction
strategies are closely linked to trust toward the risk reduction
transmitter, and indirectly toward signs transmitted at the
institutional level as well as the product level. These transmitters are
the producer, the retailer, the government or any independent organism.
This leads to consider trust toward the producer (through the brand,
country of origin of the product, etc.), the retailer (brand loyalty,
point of sale image, etc.), and the government (official quality signs
like certification labels).
Trust and Trust Orientations
To facilitate choices in complex food markets, trust is an
essential element. In general terms, trust is seen as "an
expression of the alternative to have to make an individual decision,
and just assume that food is safe" (Green et al., 2005; p.525).
More specifically, there are particular information sources and
organizations that are trusted to either provide safe food or to provide
trustworthy information about that food.
Considering the risks associated with product consumption,
consumers will search for and adopt several risk reduction strategies
(Mitchell and McGolrick, 1996; Brunel, 2003): brand image as trust in
the brand does affect trust in the product (Gurviez, 1999; Gurviez and
Korchia, 2002), but also store image or label references are all means
to built trust in the product. Studying OF consumption, Sirieix et al.
(2004) highlights several trust orientations defined as indicators
consumers rely on in order to "trust". She presents two sets
of trust orientations: trust oriented toward several quality indicators,
and trust oriented toward individuals. Therefore, trust can be oriented
toward the brand, the label, but also toward partners like producers.
But when it comes to OF consumption, brand does not appear to be the
main source of trust (Sirieix et al., 2004).
Issues of labelling and certification also still prevail as
consumers are either unfamiliar with or confused by labelling, or do not
know to what degree they can trust certification labels. Labels can
potentially help consumers in reducing their uncertainty about product
quality. But labels only communicate the superior quality of the product
in certain conditions, one of them being consumer awareness (Grunert et
al., 2001). Based on their knowledge, consumers' trust in their own
judgment about a quality indicator like a label might also influence
their assessment of the quality of the product. Moreover, the source of
the label has to be trusted, which leads to the issue of the credibility
of public versus private certification organizations.
And last, consumers seem to be ambivalent about points of sale,
trust emerging here as an important factor in deciding where to buy OF.
Therefore, studying trust orientations regarding OF is all the more
important that the recent increase in OF consumption showed that it is
strongly related to the trust of the consumers in their food. Overall,
it is important to note that distribution, price, brand, certification,
and labeling are all linked to consumers' level of trust when
consuming OFs (Hamzaoui and Zahaf, 2006). There seems to be a need for
consumers to be able to trust both the product and any organism
certifying this product.
Channels of Distribution
In terms of distribution channels, the organic market is
characterized by the importance of direct sale and specialty stores that
are mainly attracting regular consumers. In countries where specialty
stores and supermarkets coexist, the new and occasional OF consumers
tend to purchase organic products in supermarkets (1). Whereas
supermarkets entered only later on this market, they are increasingly
successful and represent a significant part of the market. Nevertheless
these points of sale suffer from a lack of trust but also from a concern
about the incompatibility of marketing organic food (Padel and Foster,
2005; Sirieix et al., 2004), especially for regular consumers. On the
contrary, specialty shops are highly associated with personal
relationships, knowledge, and trust (Hamzaoui and Zahaf, 2006; Padel and
Foster, 2005). In Europe, consumers admit shopping for OF in
supermarkets for the sake of convenience. Supermarkets do offer for some
consumers a more pleasant environment as well as an improved range and
quality of products (Padel and Foster, 2005). But overall, these
consumers remain less confident in their retailing channel than
consumers buying in specialty stores and through direct sales. These
results are directly linked to the perceived risks pertaining to food
consumption, lack of knowledge regarding organic products, and trust or
lack of trust toward different types of points of sale.
Consistent with the current literature, it is obvious that we are
dealing with consumers that have specific consumption patters in terms
of point of sale choices, motivations, involvement with the purchase,
impacts of the purchase on their health, the environment and society as
a whole. Hence, it is a multidimensional and complex purchase framework
that we are dealing with. The typical organic product consumer is
looking for healthier and sustainable products, and more importantly
products they trust. Consumers buy organic products when they trust the
producer, the certification process, the brand and/or the store they buy
from. OF consumers shop from supermarkets, specialty stores, local
markets, or directly from the farmers. Further, the most knowledgeable
consumers are expected to buy from the shortest channel since their
decision is based on a high level of trust between them and the
producers (cf. Hamzaoui and Zahaf, 2008). Conversely, typical organic
products consumers trust the labels and specialty stores (cf. Hamzaoui
and Zahaf, 2006). Hence it appears that the consumption patterns of
organic products consumers are based on different trust dimensions or
orientations. Intentions to buy are influenced by trust, knowledge,
price, and other factors (cf. Anton et al., 2007).
Following a review of the relevant literature, a set of research
hypotheses has been developed accordingly. As per the profile of the
organic product consumers, there is a well established literature with a
wide variety of studies that tried to profile consumers using
socio-demographic indicators, frequency of purchase, etc. (cf. Davies et
al., 1995; Baker et al., 2002; Solomon et al., 1999). In this study we
aim to explore a different grouping strategy. This helps to
differentiate between regular consumers and nonregular consumers of OF
using their trust orientations.
Hypothesis 1: Profiles of regular and non regular organic food
products consumers is determined mainly by their monthly spending, OF
product category point of sale choice, and satisfaction.
It is obvious that regular organic food consumers (RC) are
different from non-regular organic food consumers (non-RC) in many ways.
According to Sirieix et al. (2004) there are different levels of trust
intervening in the decision making process of organic food consumers. In
this research, trust orientations are explored in conjunction with the
type of consumers to test if there is a significant difference between
RC and non-RC in terms of trust.
Hypothesis 2: RC and non-RC have different trust orientations with
regard to brands, organic labeling, and points of sale.
In addition to exploring trust differences between RC and non-RC,
one have to find out if consumers' trust orientations are related
to their choice of the points of sale. This helps to understand the
differences between the "preferred" or "most used"
point of sale and the "trusted" point of sale. This in turn
gives an idea about how consumers decide about using a given channel and
not another one. Further, points of sale are maybe chosen because of
high levels of trust in the store, the brand it carries, or
consumers' knowledge. Hypothesis 3 aims to explore this.
Hypothesis 3: The choice of point of sale varies with
consumers' trust orientations.
In terms of the "why" consumers buy organic products, it
appears that health, sustainability, buying locally, are some of the
most important reasons for buying organic. However, we don't have a
clear association between (i) the motivations to buy OF and the type of
OF consumers, and (ii) the motivations to buy OF and consumes'
Hypothesis 4: Consumers' motivations to buy organic food
products is positively related to their trust orientations.
To complete the set of hypotheses, we address the issue of the
choice of the point of sale. The idea to build on Hypothesis 3 and to
analysis the relationship between consumers' motivations and their
choice of the points of sale. Hypothesis 5 covers this.
Hypothesis 5: There is a positive relationship between
consumers' motivations and their choice of point of sale.
Sampling and Data Collection
The population targeted for this study is OF shoppers. For purpose
of gaining a good representation, respondents needed to fit within a
specific profile. The idea was to select randomly organic food
respondents that make their purchase mainly in specialty stores or local
markets. Data has been collected in two administration modes. First, a
paper copy of the questionnaire was used to interview respondents in two
Canadian cities. Then an electronic version of the questionnaire was
posted on the Internet. The paper version of the survey was to a large
extend administered in stores carrying exclusively organic food products
while the procedure for the online survey was somehow different. The
reason why there was less paper version of the questionnaire
administered in super/hypermarkets is purely one of authorization to
survey customers in the store. Consumers that filled out the online
version of the survey were selected using coupons. Basically, an
Internet based version of the questionnaire was created. Coupons
promoting the Internet address (URL of the survey) were randomly
distributed outside the desired stores in order to balance the
proportion of consumers shopping in different points of sale. A total of
350 questionnaires were collected, and 324 questionnaires were usable.
The bias is obvious here, consumers are pre-screened based on store
selection and in order to get broad range of OF consumers the stores
were chosen carefully to be as diverse as possible.
Measurement and Reliability
To test the abovementioned hypotheses, a structured questionnaire
was designed to gather data that measure the variables used in this
research. Prior to administering the survey, a pre-test was done and
minor modifications were made. The questionnaire is structured into
three sections. Section 1 deals with consumers' general opinion
about organic food and reasons for buying organic. This is a set of
questions to evaluate respondents' consumption and shopping habits
as well as their general opinion about OF. Next, respondents were asked
questions to assess on a 5-point Likert scale reasons why they buy
organic food products. The second section of the survey deals with level
of trust, using questions that measure the general level of trust toward
OF products, stores carrying those products, brands and organic labels.
Finally, section 3 is structured to design a socio-demographic profile
of our respondents. Most of the questions in the survey were adapted
from Sirieix et al. (2004), and Fotopoulos and Krystallis (2002).
All variables were tested to check their internal consistency.
Further, all reliability tests were coupled to a series of factor
analyses to determine the structure of the data. Factor analyses also
helped testing if the items were measuring the right constructs. Results
showed that Cronbach alphas were in the range of 0.727 to 0.850, which
is good for an exploratory study (Hair et al., 2006). All variables
except "trust" have a unidimensional structure with factors
loading ranging from 0.583 to 0.893. With regards to "trust",
we first ran a factor analysis to determine the dimensions of trust
embedded within the 13 questions. Three dimensions were found: (i) brand
and store trust: trust in the brand and the store where the purchase is
made, (ii) prior experiences: all information related to prior
experiences with the product and involved in building trust with regards
to trusted labels, brands, and points of purchase, and (iii)
uncertainty: unknown factors such as lack of credibility of the organic
labels, meaning of "organic", and lack of trust in the quality
stated in the organic labels. Hence, the trust scale has been split into
three scales with alphas raging from 0.589 to 0.774.
Data Analysis and Procedure
Data was cleaned and missing values were replaced using the mean.
No missing values were replaced for all categorical scales (demographics
characteristics and the behavioural indicators). Since our main focus is
to classify consumers with regards to their trust orientations and
motivation, we chose to run parametric tests and non-parametric tests.
The survey included nominal questions as well as interval questions on
different aspect of distribution and consumers' trust orientations
and motivations. T-tests are well suited to explore differences in means
between regular consumers (RC) and non-regular consumers (non-RC) while
chi-square tests are used to test associations between variables. Hence,
our algorithm of analysis works as follow:
Step 1. General Profile of Consumers: Consumers will be profiled
according to all sociodemographic indicators
Step 2. Trust orientations: Explore RC and non-RC's trust
orientations in relationship with consumers' points of sale choice.
Step 3. Motivations: Analyze the relationship between RC and
non-RC's motivations and trust orientations and level of trust.
Choices of points of sale will be also explored here.
General Profile of Consumers
Our sample is composed of 324 consumers. Consumers are classified
as follow: if respondents buy organic at most once a month then they are
classified as non-regular organic food consumers (non-RC) while if they
consumer organic food very often then they are tagged as regular organic
food consumers (RC). Respondents are distributed as follow: 62% of RC
and 38% of non-RC. Further, the typical profile of our respondents reads
as follow: female (69.7%); 25-35 age bracket (49.1%); single (34%) or
married (37.7%); household is composed of 2 to 3 persons (47.8%); have
at least an undergraduate degree (69.9%); works as a professional
(26.9%) or is white collar (22.8%); buys at least 2 organic food
products (90.8%); eats mainly organic fruits and/or organic vegetables
(cf. Figure 1); buys organic food mainly from supermarkets (cf. Figure
2); spends on average $100 in organic groceries (58.4%); considers
nutritional value; freshness, healthiness; and taste as the major factor
for buying organic food product; and finally is happy with his/her
organic consumption experience (90.8%).
Further, we ran a couple of cross-tabulations with Chi-square
testing to explore the relationship between the different indicators;
results are summarized in Table 1. It is important to note that almost
all cross-tabulations were significant.
Table 1 shows the most important associations. Age as well as
monthly spending, satisfaction, and OF product category are good
predictor of the type of consumer. It is also easily seen that 35% of
non-RC spend at most $100 in OF groceries while only 25.1% of their RC
counterpart spend the same amount. Further, 31.4% of RC have a monthly
spending in OF groceries of $100 to $400. This is explained in part by
the type of products bought by these consumers (cf. Table 2 for more
details). All OF categories are evenly represented for RC while most
non-RC buy mainly fruits (27%) and vegetables (28.3%). Hypothesis 1 is
There are three dimensions of trust considered in this research:
(i) brand and store trust, (ii) prior experiences and (iii) uncertainty.
We ran a three t-test for independent samples and the results are
conclusive for the uncertainty, and brand and store trust (cf. Table 3).
This means that RC and non-RC perceive differently the uncertainty in
terms of credibility of organic labels, meaning of "organic",
and lack of trust in the organic label claims. Moreover, non-RC show a
higher degree of uncertainty on all trust items than RC. This is
expected because we could assume that non-RC are still unsure about what
Moving to trust towards the brands and stores, we notice that even
though there is not any significant difference between RC and non-RC,
both types of consumers score high on that scale. This means that RC and
non-RC trust the brands and the store from where they respectively buy
OF products. In addition, it is important to note that all consumers
score high on the trust dimension related to prior experiences even if
the results are not conclusive. Hence, RC and non-RC have the
same--high--level of trust when it comes to their prior experiences with
the store and organic labels. This is directly related to
consumers' loyalty and their habitual purchase pattern, i.e., a
consumer wants to use the same point of sale and same product or organic
label if they are satisfied with their purchase.
In order to test this, we explore the relationship between
consumers' satisfaction and their prior experience for building
trust. The chi-square test was conclusive (sig. = 0.000 < 5%) showing
that satisfaction determines the type of consumers, i.e., RC or non-RC.
Most of the RC are satisfied (38.3%) or very satisfied (59.7%) with
their previous organic consumptions while 52.6% of non-RC are satisfied
and only 25.4% of them are very satisfied.
To recapitulate, hypothesis 2 is partially confirmed. RC and non-RC
perceive differently the uncertainty in terms of credibility of organic
labels, what "organic" is, and lack of trust in the organic
Points of Sale
Hypothesis 3 is here to be tested. We first tested the relationship
between the type of consumer (RC versus non-RC) and most used points of
sale using cross-tabs and Chi-square tests, and then we tested the
association between trust orientations and choice of points of sale
using t-tests (channel users versus channel non-users).
Most Used Points of Sale: Consumers were asked to check all their
most used points of sale. A descriptive analysis of the data shows that
74.6% of all respondents buy at least from two different outlets.
Further, the most used channel of distribution is the supermarket
(31.22%), followed by the organic food stores (27.77%), and local
markets (27.17%). As expected RC consumers represents the largest
proportion of channels' users for all points of sale. In order to
test if trust orientations are associated with the choice of the point
of sale, t-tests were run. Results are summarized in Table 4.
Table 4 shows that channels' users have different trust
orientations when adopting direct channels, organic food stores, and
supermarkets. Further, these results hold true for the organic food
stores regardless of all levels of trust as consumers behave differently
on all trust orientations, i.e., prior experiences, uncertainty, and
brand and store trusts. Also, farmers or organic producers
channels' users and non-users have different levels of uncertainty
and prior experiences. In fact, users have higher levels of trust
related to prior experiences and lower uncertainties than non-users.
Conversely, brand and store appear to be non-significant for direct
channels. This makes sense since consumers use the direct channel if
they know who the producer is and what the products are. The purchase
situation and framework in this case is very context specific, and hence
all consumers have the same trust orientation with regards to the brand
As far as the supermarkets go, the only important trust orientation
is the one related to the store and the brand, which is in accordance
with Sirieix et al. (2004) findings. All consumers in this channel have
the same trust orientation related to prior experiences and uncertainty.
We may think that consumers base their entire trust on the place where
they shop from and the product they buy. The crux of shopping at
supermarkets is that these points of sale are the most used point of
sale because of their convenience, and maybe not because they are the
most trusted ones.
Further, Chi-square tests show that the only significant
relationship is between on one hand, organic food stores users and
non-users, and on the other hand the type of consumers, RC and non-RC.
This means that users of a given channel do not determine if they are RC
or non-RC of organic food. Hence, channels adoption is not an exclusive
criterion to decide about the type of consumers. To recapitulate,
consumers' trust orientations determine their choice of the most
used channel of distribution.
Trusted Points of Sale: First of all, it is important to note that
RC as well as non-RC used a variety of points of sale ranging from
organic food stores to supermarkets. The most trusted point of sale is
the organic food store followed by health food stores, and the direct
channel producer-to-consumer. Interestingly enough, supermarkets ranked
fourth ahead of local markets (all means higher than 3 on a 5-point
Likert scale). Data has been recoded to address some of the complex
issues related to distribution. Respondents were asked the following
question "I can confidently buy this product in" for each of
the 7 point of sale types. This was rated on a 5-point Likert scale
ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = totally agree. Each item of
the trusted point of sale scale has been recoded as follow: high trust
consumers (score 4 to 5) and low trust consumers (score 1 to 3). 12
t-tests have been run to determine if there is a significant difference
between high trust consumers and low trust consumers with regards to the
levels of trust orientations (store and brand, uncertainty, prior
experiences) for the 4 major points of sale (organic food stores,
supermarkets, direct channel, and health food stores). Results are
summarized in Table 5.
It is obvious from the results that not only consumers trust all
points of sale to certain degrees, but also there are no major
differences between RC and non-RC for all levels of trust. More
(i) RC and non-RC have different trust orientations with regard to
organic food stores. Moreover, organic food stores are the most trusted
points of sale. This is somehow self-explanatory as RC are assumed to
know more about OF than non-RC, and hence they have less uncertainties,
trust more the brand and the organic food stores, and finally, they have
a good deal of trust based on their prior experiences.
(ii) RC and non-RC have the same level of trust and the same trust
orientations towards supermarkets, health stores, and direct channels.
Consumers trust all these points of sale to a certain extent. However,
descriptive statistics confirm that that RC and non-RC shop occasionally
in these stores as the highest frequencies are for organic food stores.
Hypothesis 3 is partially confirmed: consumers trust all points of
sale but consumers' trust orientations intervene only when choosing
to shop from an organic food store. Further, when it comes to the most
used point of sale, it appears that trust orientations are the main
cause for points of sale utilization.
In order to test Hypotheses 4 and 5, we need first to test if there
is any significant difference between RC and non-RC in terms of
motivations. Motivations have been measured with regards to
consumers' involvement when buying OF products. Hence, consumers
are assumed to buy OF because they think they are healthier, tastier,
environmentally friendly, of superior quality, and finally more
General Motivations and Trust Orientations: Results from the
bivariate correlations show that consumers' motivations are related
to two trust orientations: (i) positively to prior experiences (+ 0.215;
sig. = 0.000 < 5%), and (ii) negatively to uncertainty (-0.247; sig.
= 0.000 < 5%). There is no correlation between consumers'
motivations and their trust with regards to the store and the brands. If
consumers have positive prior experiences with the store, the product,
or the brand then they will be more motivated to buy OF products.
Moreover, if they do not have any uncertainty with regards to the
labeling or the quality of the OF products then they will be more
involved and motivated with their OF purchases. Lastly, trusting brands
or stores does not intervene in consumers' motivation process (sig.
= 0.089 > 5%).
RC versus non-RC Motivations: Overall, it appears that RC have
different motivations then non-RC (t-test sig. = 0.000 < 5%). A
couple of independent t-tests have been run to determine which dimension
of consumers' motivation is significant. Table 6 summarizes the
RC as well as non-RC score high on almost all motivation's
items except the fourth dimension (quality). Hence, consumers are highly
motivated to buy organic food and they perceive these products as
healthier, tastier, environmentally friendly, of superior quality, and
more importantly they believe that OF products could help the local
economy. Having said that, RC and non-RC have different motivations when
buying OF product. However, there is no significant difference in how RC
and non-RC perceive the quality of OF products (t-test sig. = 0.072 >
5%). They score relatively low compared to other dimensions of
motivation (RC = 3.91 and non-RC = 3.67).
Highly and Lowly Motivated Consumers: Consumers have been
classified as highly motivated (HM) and lowly motivated (LM) using the
same procedure as for the trusted points of sale. This helps to
investigate if the consumers' motivations are related to their
trust orientations. T-tests results show that there are differences
between highly motivated consumers and lowly motivated consumers when it
comes to prior experiences and uncertainty with regards to OF labeling
and quality. Highly motivated consumers relate the health and quality
dimensions of their involvement to their prior experiences (sig. = 0.001
< 5%) while all the other dimensions of their motivation, i.e.,
sustainability, quality, environmentally friendly, and taste, are
related exclusively to their level of uncertainty. More specifically,
compared to LM consumers, HM consumers weight heavily their prior
experiences, perceive fewer uncertainties related to their involvement
with the quality of the OF products, their taste, their sustainability
and their environmental aspect. All these results allow us to state that
Hypothesis 4 is confirmed.
Motivation and Points of Sale: Bivariate correlations show that
there is clear relationship between the points of sale and
consumers' motivation. This holds true for all points of sale
except convenience stores (sig. 0.369 > 5%). Interestingly enough,
t-tests were run to determine what differentiates between highly
motivated and lowly motivated consumers. When it comes to health
motivations, consumers trust only direct channels namely home delivery
(sig. = 0.026 < 5%). Conversely, when considering taste and
sustainability, highly and lowly motivated consumers reveal no
difference in their channels choices. Basically they have the same
behavior. Further, highly motivated consumers prefer buying from organic
food stores when looking for quality and environmentally friendly
products. Lastly, when quality is considered, highly motivated consumers
prefer buying directly from the producer. Hypothesis 5 is then
This study contributes to the actual body of literature in many
ways. First we were able to reinforce Sirieix et al. (2004) results as
we used a combination of her trust scales. Our findings show that there
are three trust orientations that consumers hold toward OF products:
brand and store trust, prior experiences, and uncertainty. Further,
"prior experiences" is the most important trust orientation,
followed by brand and store, and finally, uncertainty. This breakdown
shows how consumers proceed when integrating their trust orientations in
their decision making process. It is interesting to note that RC and
non-RC have the same trust orientations toward their respective prior
experiences, brands and stores. This is directly related to
consumers' loyalty and their habitual purchase pattern, i.e., a
consumer wants to use the same point of sale and same brand or organic
label if they are satisfied with their purchase. However, RC have less
uncertainties with regards to OF and organic labeling.
Second, we looked to study where RC and non-RC buy OF. We started
with the points of sale. These consumers have a bipolar behavior: there
is clear differentiation between trusted points of sale and most used
points of sale. All consumers in our sample used at least two of points
of sales but the most used points of sale are supermarket, followed by
organic food stores, and local markets. Whereas consumers have different
trust orientations toward the different points of sale, brand and store
appear to be non-significant for direct channels. This makes sense since
consumers use the direct channel if they know who the producer is and
what the products are. The purchase situation and framework in this case
is very context specific, and hence all consumers have the same trust
orientation with regards to the brand and store. Conversely, non-RC shop
mainly from supermarkets as they have high uncertainties with regards to
what organic is and organic labels credibility. Further, these consumers
trust is based on brand and store selection rather that on a direct
interaction with a salesperson or the producer per se (cf. Hamzaoui and
Zahaf (2006, 2008) for more details).
Consumers behave differently when shopping from the trusted
outlets. The most trusted point of sale is the organic food store
followed by health food stores, and the direct channel, which confirms
Sirieix's results (2004). In terms of most trusted point of sale,
these results are in accordance with the results in Padel and
Foster's study (2005), highlighting that the higher trust in
organic food stores over supermarkets may be a reflection of wider
anxieties about the food system. Regular consumers have less trust in
supermarkets. It is important to note that trusted points of sale are
different from most used points of sale as consumers take into account
different factors for each type of purchasing situation such as their
prior experiences with the products and the stores, or shopping
Next, we moved to the why RC and non-RC buy OF. Considering that
motivations are determined in a pre-purchase setting, we looked for the
nature of the relationship between OF consumers' motivation and
their trust orientations. Hence, a hypothesis has been developed to test
if there is a significant association between both variables. We were
able to show that prior experiences as well as uncertainty are directly
correlated with consumers' motivation. If prior experiences are
positive and the level of uncertainty is low then their motivation will
be high. Further, consumers with low levels of uncertainty have high
levels of trust toward the brand and the store as the y know what
organic means and they trust organic labeling.. Further, t-tests showed
that RC and non-RC have different motivations when it comes to OF in
terms of health, taste, environmental friendliness, and sustainability.
Interestingly enough, RC and non-RC perceive OF as being good quality
products. The analysis has been pushed further to explore the different
levels of motivation and their relationship to consumers' trust
orientations. More specifically, we proved that highly motivated
consumers base their decision on their prior experiences, perceive fewer
uncertainties related to the quality of the OF products, their taste,
their sustainability and their environmental aspect. Lastly, it is also
important to note that consumers score high on all motivations'
Since consumers' motivations to buy organic food products are
positively related to their trust orientations, we explored the
relationship between consumers' motivation and the choice of points
of sale. It appears that highly motivated consumers have a specific
purchasing scheme. They associate health to direct home delivery and
quality is associated with organic food stores. Conversely there is no
difference between highly motivated consumers and lowly motivated
consumers with regard to taste and environmental friendliness. We can
assume that each point of sale carries an image in consumers' mind.
That positioning leads to certain degrees of basic motivation as more
elaborate motivations are reached when there is a higher level of trust.
For instance, organic food stores are thought of as points of sale
carrying quality products by all consumers. However, highly motivated
consumers make a very strong association between quality and organic
food stores. Overall, there is clear relationship between
consumers' motivation and their choice of points of sale.
Combining all the findings allows us to profile the typical OF
consumer. This consumer is a married female who does her organic
groceries preferably from trusted sources such as organic food stores
and health food stores. She eats mainly organic fruits and/or organic
vegetables and spends on average $100 in organic groceries. The typical
OF consumer trusts most of the points of sale but uses mainly
supermarkets, organic food stores, and local markets. Nutritional value,
freshness, healthiness, and taste are the major factor for buying
organic food product. Overall these consumers are happy with their
organic consumption experience. Lastly, monthly spending, satisfaction,
gender, and age are good predictors of who the typical OF consumer is.
All in all, OF consumers are niche consumers who have purchasing
preferences as well as specific trust orientations. It is obvious from
the findings that motivations are pre-determined by trust. Uncertainty
is still an important factor as it relates to organic labeling and
In conclusion, the body of knowledge surrounding OF consumer
behavior has focused up to now on determining consumers' knowledge,
attitudes, perceptions, and motivations, the certification process, and
trust issues. However, not many studies have been conducted to explore
consumers' trust orientations and their link with the use of the
various OF distribution channels. Our study tackles the issue of
relating consumers' trust toward OF brands, labeling and points of
sales to their motivations. The findings show that not only trust
orientations are positively related to motivations but also that trust
differentiate between regular and non-regular consumers. Further, there
is positive relationship between consumers' motivations, their
trust orientations, and the choice of points of sale. Lastly, we
profiled the typical OF consumer in terms of age, gender, satisfaction,
choice of point of sale, and monthly spending.
One important limitation of this research is the sample size and
the non-inclusion of more cities in the study. This would have helped in
many ways. For instance having a representative sample of Canadian cites
allows to generalize the results at the national level, not to mention
the theoretical and practical implications for marketing practitioners
and public policies. Deepening the understanding of OF consumers'
motivations and trust orientations should be also done using
multivariate techniques such as cluster analysis and discriminant
Finally, besides considering the trust orientations studied here,
more attention should be paid to how important is the country of origin
of the product to the consumer, and if there is some trust or lack of
trust toward the organic product depending on its origin. This might
lead to an additional trust orientation influencing consumer's
decision process. Level of trust in terms of origin of the product also
indirectly touches upon trust toward the organic label (and
certification process) used in the countries products originate from. If
consumers already show some low level of trust toward the local/national
organic label, this might be even more pronounced for foreign organic
labels. Furthermore, as knowledgeable OF consumers really pay attention
to how really the products they buy are organic (no pesticides, no
chemicals, but also no plastic wrapping, plane transportation, etc.), it
might be interesting to look more into detail to the notion of
"food mileage" and its relative importance for OF consumers,
as well as its link with one of their motivation, "support local
farmers". This notion might also affect all consumer's trust
orientations, as well as their point of sale choice.
Anton, C., Camarero, C., and Carrero, M. (2007), "The
Mediating Effect of Satisfaction on Consumers' Switching
Intention", Psychology and Marketing, Vol. 24 (6), 511-538.
Baker, S., Thompson, K., and Engelken, J. (2004), "Mapping the
values driving organic food choice", European Journal of Marketing,
Vol. 38 (8), 995-1012.
Bergadaa, B., and Urien, B. (2006), "Le risque alimentaire
percu comme risque vital de consommation: Emergences, adaptation et
gestion ", Revue Francaise de Gestion, (162), 127-144.
Brunel, O. (2003), "Les strategies d'ajustement au risque
alimentaire ", Proceedings of the FMA International Congress,
Brunel, O., and Pichon, P.E. (2002), "Food related
risk-reduction strategies: purchasing and consumption processes",
Journal of Consumer Behaviour, Vol.3 (4), 360-374.
Brunso, K., and Grunert, K.G. (1998), "Cross-cultural
similarities and differences in shopping for food", Journal of
Business Research, Vol. 42 (3), 145-150.
Brunso, K., Scholderer, J., and Grunert, K.G. (2004), "Closing
the gap between values and behavior--a means-end theory of
lifestyle", Journal of Business Research, 57 (6), 665-670.
Cunningham, R. (2001), "The organic consumer profile: Not only
who you think it is!", Alberta Agriculture. Food and Rural
Davis, A., Titterington, A.J., and Cochrane, C. (1995), "Who
buys organic food? A profile of the purchasers of organic food in
Northern Ireland", British Food Journal, Vol. 97 (1), 17-23.
Fotopoulos, C., and Krystallis, A. (2002), "Purchasing motives
and profile of Greek organic consumer: a countrywide survey",
British Food Journal, Vol. 104 (9), 730-764.
Gallen, C. (2001), "Le besoin de reassurance en consummation
alimentaire", Revue Francaise du Marketing, (183-184), 67-86.
Green, J.M., Draper, A., Dowler E.A., Fele, G., Hagenhoff, V.,
Rusanen, M., and Rusanen, T. (2005), "Public understanding of food
risks in four European countries: a qualitative study", European
Journal of Public Health, Vol. 15 (5), 523-527.
Grunert, K.G., Juhl, H.J., and Poulsen, C.S. (2001),
"Perception de la qualite en alimentaire et role des labels ",
Revue Francaise du Marketing, (183-184), 181-196.
Gurviez, P. (1999), "La confiance comme variable explicative
du comportement du consommateur: proposition et validation empirique
d'un modele de la relation a la marque integrant la confiance
", Proceeedings of the FMA International Congress, Strasbourg,
Gurviez, P. (2001), "Le role de la confiance dans la
perception des risques alimentaires par les consommateurs ", Revue
Francaise du Marketing, (183-184), 87-98.
Gurviez, P., and Korchia, M. (2002), "Proposition d'une
echelle de mesure multidimensionnelle de la confiance dans la
marque", Recherche et Applications en Marketing, Vol. 17 (3),
Hamzaoui, L., and Zahaf, M. (2006), "Exploring the decision
making process of Canadian organic food consumers". Working Paper
WP 2006-31, School of Management, University of Ottawa.
Hamzaoui L., and Zahaf, M. (2008), "Decision Making Process Of
Community Organic Food Consumers: An Exploratory Study", Journal of
Consumer Marketing, 25 (2), 95-104.
Lampkin, N. (1992), "What is organic farming"- Trade
Development Board--Organics Workshop, 30 June, Organic Farming Systems
Research Group, MAF, Wellington.
Larue, B., West, G., Gendron, C., and Lambert, R. (2004),
"Consumer response to functional foods produced by conventional,
organic, or genetic manipulation", Agribusiness, Vol. 20 (2),
MacRae, R., Martin, R., Macecy, A., Beauchemin, R., and
Christianson, R. (2002). "A national strategic plan for the
Canadian organic food and farming sector", Organic Agriculture
Center of Canada, Nova Scotia Agriculture College. Retrieved January 17,
2005, from http://www.organicagcentre.ca/reportfinal.pdf
Makatouni, A. (2002), "What motivates consumers to buy organic
food in UK?", British Food Journal, Vol. 104 (3/4/5), 345-352.
Mitchell, V.W., and McGolrick P.J. (1996), "Consumer's
risk-reduction strategies: a review and synthesis", The
International Review of retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, Vol.
6 (1), 1-33.
Olson, J. (1977), "Price as an informational cue: effects in
product evaluation", in Consumer and Industrial Buying Behaviour,
A. Woodside, J.N. Sheth and P. Benett eds, NY, 267-286.
Padel, S., and Foster, C. (2005), "Exploring the gap between
attitudes and behaviour: Understanding why consumers buy or do not buy
organic food", British Food Journal, Vol. 107 (8), 606-625.
Roddy, G., Cowan, C., and Hutchinson, G. (1994), "Organic
food: a description of the Irish market", British Food Journal,
Vol. 96 (4), 3-10.
Roselius, T. (1971), "Consumer rankings of risk reduction
methods", Journal of Marketing, (35), 56-61.
Sirieix, L., Pontier, S., and Schaer, B. (2004), "Orientations
de la confiance et choix du circuit de distribution: le cas des produits
biologiques", Proceedings of the 10th FMA International Congress,
St. Malo, France.
Solomon, M., Bamossy G., and Askegaard, S. (1999), "Consumer
Behaviour: A European Perspective". Prentice Hall, Englewood
Tutunjian, J.: 2004, "Are Organic Products Going
Mainstream?", Canadian Grocer, (118), 31-34.
Verdurme, A., Gellynck X., and Viaene, J. (2002), "Are organic
food consumers opposed To GM food consumers?", British Food
Journal, Vol. 104 (8), 610-623.
Wier, M., and Calverly, C. (2002), "Market potential for
organic foods in Europe", British Food Journal, Vol. 104 (1),
Williams, P.R., and Hammit, J.K. (2001), "Perceived risks of
conventional and organic produce: pesticides, pathogens, and natural
toxins", Risk Analysis: an official Publication of the Society for
Risk Analysis, Vol 21 (2), 319-330.
Zanoli, R., and Naspetti, S. (2002), "Consumer motivations in
the purchase of organic food: a means end approach", British Food
Journal, Vol. 104 (8), 643-653.
(1) Market share of total retail food sales for organic food in
Canada is in the 1% to 2% range, with estimated sales at $800 million
Canadian dollars in 2002. The organic food industry is aiming to achieve
10% of the entire Canadian food retailing market by 2010, with
forecasted retail sales of organics at $3.5 billion Canadian dollars.
Since the mid-1990s, Canadian organic food retail sales in dollar value
have been growing at a rate of 20% per annum (MacRae, 2002).
Leila Hamzaoui Essoussi, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario,
Mehdi Zahaf, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay Ontario, Canada
Table 1: Chi-square tests
Variable 1 Variable 2 significance
Age Type of consumers (RC or non-RC) 0.000 *
Gender Type of consumers (RC or non-RC) 0.000 *
OF product category Type of consumers (RC or non-RC) 0.000 *
Monthly spending Type of consumers (RC or non-RC) 0.000 *
Satisfaction with Type of consumers (RC or non-RC) 0.000 *
Monthly spending Satisfaction with consumption 0.000 *
Table 2: Purchase Distribution for RC and non-RC per Food Category
Product Category Non-RC RC
Dairy 8.3% 41.9%
Fruit 27.% 59.7%
Bread 11.1% 46%
Meat 7% 27.9%
Vegetables 28.3% 57.5%
Prepared food 8.6% 36.5%
Table 3: t-tests for Levels of Trust
Trust Dimensions Consumers Mean t-test Significance
Brand and Store RC 3.533 0.138
Uncertainty RC 2.643 0.000 *
Prior Experiences RC 3.280 0.219
* sig. at 5%
Table 4: t-tests for Most Used Points of Sale
Trust Dimensions users Mean Significance
Direct Prior Experiences Users 3.102 0.014 *
Channel Non-users 3.314
Uncertainty Users 2.682 0.048 *
Brand and Store Users 3.590 0.081
Local Market Prior Experiences Users 3.270 0.522
Uncertainty Users 2.850 0.439
Brand and Store Users 3.462 0.381
Organic Food Prior Experiences Users 3.354 0.001 *
Stores Non-users 3.072
Uncertainty Users 2.707 0.001
Brand and Store Users 3.601 0.002 *
Supermarkets Prior Experiences Users 3.257 0.787
Uncertainty Users 2.804 0.843
Brand and Store Users 3.425 0.008 *
* sig. at 5%
Table 5: t-test for trusted Channels of Distribution
Level of t-test
Trust Dimensions trust Mean Significance
Organic Prior Experiences High trust 3.314 0.000 *
food Low Trust 3.012
stores Uncertainty High trust 2.755 0.003 *
Low Trust 3.128
Brand and Store High trust 3.572 0.002 *
Low Trust 3.207
Direct Prior Experiences High trust 3.321 0.074
channel Low Trust 3.171
Uncertainty High trust 2.780 0.540
Low Trust 2.840
Brand and Store High trust 3.531 0.429
Low Trust 3.457
Health Prior Experiences High trust 3.293 0.178
stores Low Trust 3.159
Uncertainty High trust 2.766 0.059
Low Trust 2.974
Brand and Store High trust 3.531 0.224
Low Trust 3.405
Supermarkets Prior Experiences High trust 3.338 0.101
Low Trust 3.212
Uncertainty High trust 2.753 0.031 *
Low Trust 2.945
Brand and Store High trust 3.505 0.989
Low Trust 3.504
* sig. at 5%
Table 6: t-tests for Motivations
Motivations Mean t-test significance
OF are healthier RC 4.57 0.000 *
OF are tastier RC 4.14 0.000 *
OF are environmentally RC 4.58 0.000 *
friendly non-RC 4.08
OF are of superior RC 3.91 0.072
quality non-RC 3.67
OF support local RC 4.30 0.001 *
farmers/economy non-RC 3.86
* sig. at 5%
Figure 1: Consumption of Organic Food by
Prepared food 12.53%
Note: Table made from bar graph.
Figure 2: Preferred Points of Sale
Local market 27.19%
Organic food store 27.77%
Note: Table made from bar graph.