Consumer attitudes toward organic foods: An exploration of U.S. market segments

Julie V. Stanton, Deirdre T. Guion

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study explores U.S. consumer attitudes toward organic foods in order to demonstrate that multiple and meaningful segments can be identified based on attitudes and beliefs rather than demographics and that a more targeted marketing strategy could likely create a better fit with consumer wants and needs. Methodology: Q-methodology is employed, in part to demonstrate its usefulness for segmentation purposes. Findings: Six meaningful segments of consumers are generated based on attitudes toward organic foods: Health Enthusiasts, Organic Idealists, Hoban's Hogwashers, Unengaged Shoppers, Bargain Shoppers, and Cynical/Distrustfuls. These groups vary in attitudes toward organic food, and despite conventional wisdom, exhibit a reasonable match between attitude and purchase behavior. Segments are also generated for viewpoints toward conventionally grown foods, revealing that consumers do not simply hold binary positions (pro-organic, anticonventional), but instead consider each food type on its respective merits. Positioning and media choice strategies are considered for each organic food segment. Originality: This chapter distinguishes between different types of consumers of organic food by using Q-methodology, with the result being a rich, detailed description of the values and preferences of each group. With these descriptions, the organic food industry can better align its marketing efforts with the priorities of individual consumer groups, rather than their simplistic demographics as are commonly utilized. The chapter also offers a unique perspective on the attitude-behavior gap, revealing that when the attitude is understood in greater detail, the gap appears to disappear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch in Consumer Behavior
EditorsRussell Belk
Number of pages37
StatePublished - 2010

Publication series

NameResearch in Consumer Behavior
ISSN (Print)0885-2111

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Marketing


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