Exploring Consumer Constructions of Local Food: Meanings and Influences

Barry Quinn, Rajlakshmi Banerjee

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Abstract

The study focuses on local food consumption and specifically seeks to explore how consumers construct the meaning of local food, and the nature of relationships between key influences on the local food purchase intention.
A two-stage qualitative methodology was adopted consisting of five focus group discussions and 25 semi-structured interviews with consumers in Northern Ireland. Focus groups explored consumer meanings of local food. Semi-structured interviews sought to explore in more depth the inter-relationships between the influences on the purchase intention and the role of moral norms.
Five key influences on the purchase intention are identified (quality attributes, experience and familiarity, emotional attributes, the setting, support for the local economy). These influences are connected with a range of self-interest, altruistic and moral factors.
The study was undertaken in a specific geographical setting and thus the generalisation of the findings are limited. Future research should ascertain the views of stakeholders (producers and retailers) to provide multi-actor constructions and understandings of local food.
There are a number of practical implications for marketers from this study that provide considerable scope to differentiate local food products. A more nuanced understanding of consumer motivations and their understanding of local food will help marketers to develop brand image linked to the themes identified here such as product familiarity and rural connections. Furthermore, the local food servicescape or setting should be managed carefully to construct an emotional attachment and positive consumer experience, whilst promoting trust and perceptions of quality.
Previous studies on local food consumer behaviour have considered the influences on local food consumer behaviour in quite binary terms (self-interest and altruistic factors). The current study unpicks the key influences on the purchase intention, based on a thematic analysis, and proposes a new categorisation and set of interrelationships around five key theme
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Early online date26 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • local food
  • consumer behaviour
  • motivations
  • influences
  • purchase intention
  • quality
  • qualitative research
  • moral norms

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