Understanding local food shopping: Unpacking the ethical dimension

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Analysing shopping in the local food sector is an area of contemporary consumer research that has received considerable interest in recent times. The significance of the topic relates not only to underlying consumer behaviour theory, but also to the perceived role of local food in environmentally responsible purchasing practices, and consequently sustainable food policies. However, previous empirical investigation of local food buying behaviour is limited, and this research extends current work through adopting a mixed methods approach that comprised qualitative focus groups with an online survey of consumers. Multivariate analysis techniques were utilised to identify a set of drivers of and inhibitors to local food buying. Following this, two types of local food buyers were distinguished based upon the reasons for buying/not buying, and these were further categorised using demographic and location variables. An integrated modelling process was then used to establish the effects of the different influences on behavioural intentions and actual buying behaviour. Results identified a complex range of outcomes which indicate that the ethical sustainability dimension of local food shopping does not positively affect consumer buying in this market. The implications for related areas of theory and the future marketing practices of local food suppliers and retailers are then considered.

Keywords: consumer trade-offs; ethical and socially responsible consumption; local food shopping; purchasing behaviour; shopper types

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2012.658838

Affiliations: University of Plymouth, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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