Gaining and maintaining a competitive edge: Evidence from CSA members and farmers on local food marketing strategies

Emily H. Morgan, Michelle M. Severs, Karla L. Hanson, Jared McGuirt, Florence Becot, Weiwei Wang, Jane Kolodinsky, Marilyn Sitaker, Stephanie B.Jilcott Pitts, Alice Ammerman, Rebecca A. Seguin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a widely-used approach for farmers to sell directly to consumers. We used the product, place, price, and promotion (4P) marketing mix framework to examine characteristics that help farms offering CSA maintain member satisfaction and thus competitiveness. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 20 CSA members and 24 CSA farmers in four states. CSA members additionally completed a modified choice experiment. Qualitative data were coded iteratively, and choice experiment data were summarized and compared across scenarios. CSA members and farmers were motivated by a range of personal, social, environmental, and economic objectives. Members favored high-quality staple vegetables (e.g., lettuce, green beans), ideally produced organically. Trust and a sense of personal connection with the farmer comprised part of the "value added" of CSA participation. Time and location of share pick-up were very important; thus, farmers tried to offer convenient sites or an enriched pick-up experience. Small changes in price appeared unlikely to impact participation among current members. Social networks and word-of-mouth were powerful for marketing, but may limit the ability to reach diverse populations. Future research should examine the ability of CSAs to meet the needs of those who do not currently participate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2177
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 26 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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