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Willingness to pay for organic products: Differences between virtue and vice foods

Jenny van Doorn and Peter C. Verhoef

International Journal of Research in Marketing, 2011, vol. 28, issue 3, 167-180

Abstract: Faced with growing environmental problems, food safety issues, and increasing obesity rates, many consumers desire healthier, less processed natural foods that are less harmful to the environment. Yet organic foods only partially benefit from this market environment, and their market share remains quite low despite high growth rates. The usual explanation for this discrepancy is that consumers are not willing to pay the price premium prompted by an organic claim. In this paper, we explore the reasons behind consumers' (un)willingness to pay for organic food and investigate whether it differs between virtue and vice food categories. The results indicate that in vice food categories, organic claims are associated with lower quality, which seems to be only partly compensated by higher prosocial benefits. The lower-quality perceptions translate into a decreased consumer willingness to pay (WTP). We supplement the empirical results with data on organic purchases in the Dutch food market. These data show that market shares of organic food are indeed lower for vice categories of organic food.

Keywords: Sustainability; Retailing; Consumer behavior; Pricing; Environmentalism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:eee:ijrema:v:28:y:2011:i:3:p:167-180