What motivates consumers to buy local food products and does this differ from country to country?

23 February 2021 - Published by Luchiena Lanjouw
A new comparative study among five European regions reveals that the concern for the local economy and the perceived quality of the product are the most important factors in relation to what motivates consumers to buy local food products.

The comparative study, which is commissioned by project REFRAME and carried out by Jesper Kwant, a graduate from Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, explores the attitude towards local food and the intention to purchase local food among consumers in Västra Götaland (Sweden), West-Flanders (Belgium), Wesermarsch District (Germany), Denmark, and the Northern Netherlands.

When marketing local products it is important to know what motivates the consumers to buy the products so that the communication can be designed to appeal to these motives. The motives can be many, including health consciousness, concern for the environment, concern for the local economy, perceived quality, food safety, etc.

The findings show that the factor ‘concern for the local economy’ and ‘perceived quality’ have the most significant effect on the attitude towards local food. However, there are several similarities and differences between the regions. Although the concern for the local economy plays a significant role in most regions, it proved to be the most prominent factor in both West-Flanders and the Wesermarsch District. This is also the case for the perceived quality, which is an important factor in three of the REFRAME regions.

On the other hand, the study shows that some factors, which were indicated as important in one region, were not mentioned in another region and vice versa. For instance, concern for the environment is an important motive in West-Flanders and health consciousness is an important factor in Denmark.

4 Tips for Marketers and Policy Makers
When it comes to policy making and marketing of local food products, based on the research by Jesper Kwant the following is advised:

  • Show the consumer how the purchasing of local food supports the local farmer/business. For instance, by showing how the money spent on local food products makes its way back to the local economy.

  • Create a favourable context for purchasing local food e.g. by clearly labelling local food so that it is easily recognizable, showing how the customer is receiving good value for money, and why purchasing local food products at a premium price is worth it.

  • Visualise what impact the purchase of the food product has on the environment so that it appeals to the consumers who are concerned about the environment.
  • Investigate and map out barriers connected to purchasing local food so that these insights can be used to promote local food consumption. 

Read the full report here to get more insight into the motives of the consumers to buy local food products. Additional you can find the appendixes here.