Status of a “green” product is more important to food shoppers than quality

Our choices in the supermarket may be more irrational than we think.  Consumers may say that they pay more for eco-friendly food because it’s healthier, however, what really drives their purchasing decision in regard to pricey groceries is status of a product, a new research from Lund University, Sweden, finds.

Johan Anselmsson, Associate Professor of Brand Management at Lund University and one of the authors of the research titled «Brand image and customers’ willingness to pay a price premium for food brands» says that consumers can’t evaluate the quality of a food product not linking it with the status of its brand.

To compare how consumers perceive some food brands and what they actually buy at supermarket, the researchers developed a methodology evaluating subconscious choices based on the Nobel award recipient Daniel Kahneman’s theory about decision making. Respondents were asked to list brands  they usually bought and name some properties associated with certain brands. A computer program then linked their associations with their purchasing habits.

«The method brings out the intuitive and subconscious elements of our choices. The results can help companies become better at matching their offerings to customer needs», says Johan Anselmsson.

To improve a status of a brand, the researcher has outlined four branding strategies for food brands:

  • associate a product with a celebrity or a credible person;
  • align partnership with another high-status brand;
  • link you product to a specific country or region;
  • sponsor an event that your target customers care about.

The full version of the research outline is available to subscribers of Journal of Product & Brand Management.