Organic food has been linked to eating healthily, more nutrition, better animal welfare and more environmental-friendly by the publicity. Media has been highlighting obesity as one of UK society problems which is considered to be the cause of many medical issues such as heart condition. The public policy maker has been encouraging consumers to have healthy food choices by limiting junk food advert on TV in attempt to reduce the consumption of unhealthy food. The social marketing campaign has been urging people to consume more fruits and vegetables for their own health interests. The TV programmes introduce how a better animal welfare is achieved in organic farms promoting awareness on animal wellbeing. As a result, consumers consider organic food is a way to achieve their ideal self by staying healthy, avoiding illness, keeping a healthy weight, or be social responsible. Self concept is the beliefs a person holds about his/her own attributes, and how he/she evaluates these qualities Attribute dimensions: content, positivity, intensity, stability over time, and accuracy (Solomon, M. R. 2017).There are 5 types of self-concept have been identified in organic food consumption (Hanspal, S., & Devasagayam, P. R. 2017): group 1 the health conscious those with over-concern for health who are closely monitoring their physical condition ; group 2 weight conscious – those who like to eat healthily and watch for calories intake; group 3 brand conscious – those who are very brand oriented in choosing organic food; group 4 price conscious – those who always go for the brand inexpensive; group 5 variety conscious – those who are open for new experiment. The finding also indicates different age group of people have different self image on being healthy representing self concept is changing with age. For example, 18-22 years old group self-image of ideal weight is different from 45-55 age group. In terms of price conscious, a consumer as young as 25 years old who is not quite financially established differs from a 55 – 60 years old who has savings in the bank.
As much as people want to stay in healthy and eat the food pesticide free and chemical free, price has been the biggest barrier for most families. Consumer will need to consider how to live healthily and be social responsible as well as being financially realistic. When consumers want to achieve their goal and the reality doesn’t allow this due to the income of the consumers simply just can not cover the organic food consumption on a daily basis, two major identity conflicts behaviour are seen as follows:
The demarcating consumers make a choice between two identities which is either not consuming organic food at all – adapted by most people due to the financial reason, or they are consuming organic food by compromising their lifestyle such as staying in smaller flat or going out fewer saving costs for their organic consumption. The latter consumers are considered to be the ones whose self actualisation is so strong that they would put their top needs of their Maslow hierarchy pyramid before other basic needs therefore this is a rarely phenomenon and does happen often to most consumers.
The compromising consumer are referring to those who create the new identity out of two identities. When people still want to lead a lifestyle of living healthily by consuming organic food, taking their economic situation into consideration, a new identity is created by becoming light organic food consumer without needing for organic food every day due to the price or availability. The identity allows consumers to be their ideal self of living healthily and being social responsible at some point without making excessive compromises on their financial contributes.
Motivations to purchase organic produce focus on health, taste, fewer chemicals and animal welfare. In Maslow’s hierarchy’s theory, the needs of consumer have been divided into five levels of pyramid. A person’s consuming priority lies on the biological needs which should be satisfied before moving up to the higher level of needs. Physiological refer to the basic biological needs such as food, water and warmth. Thus being a type of food organic food should not be considered as part of physiological category due to the availability of large alternative selection non organic food which could easily stop people’s physiological hunger.
Postal survey data collected in 2011 by Dutch GLOBE shows that people who are satisfied with higher-level needs such as ego needs or self – actualisation make healthier/organic food choices. Organic food is known for being more expensive. If a household of three with monthly income £2,000, the costs of organic food consumption per month is £900, monthly mortgage payment for their 3 bedrooms house £800 and the fuel £400, the monthly overall spending will exceed the income brought in. And it is not difficult for the household to make a decision to replace organic food consumption with inexpensive general food which costs around £600 per month. By doing this the total monthly spending will fall into their affordability. Only when the base of the pyramid needs such as physiological (general food), safety (house and fuel) are met, the higher levels of needs are to be considered (belongingness, ego, self-actualisation). Hence, self-actualization needs sometimes can be so strong that it could be positioned as priority by consumers. This could be seen in.
With regards to demographics, the strongest influence on organic purchasing was social grade, with those from the higher social grade being more likely to be stronger purchasers, according to the survey conducted by Better Organic Business Links based in Wales. The cause of social status and class are income, education, family background and occupation. People with highly paid jobs brings more income which gives them more buying power. Organic food is more expensive than normal food. Education offers people access to the information about organic food. Some people who are not well educated are less familiar with the benefit of organic food. Studies show that some people had never purchased any organic food in the past as a result of lack of knowledge over the organic food.
Advice to the Organic Marketers:
Organic food is attracted to the people with self concept as being healthy. As discussed in self concept different age groups perceived healthy image is different with a 50 years old would have a different standard for healthy from a 20 years old. As such, marketer needs to consider the effective marketing strategy when targeting the different age group.
With regards to motivation, the organic food is consumed dominantly based on health concern with its pesticide free and chemical free benefit with better animal welfare and environment as second biggest motivation. This has positioned organic consumption in the top Maslow’s hierarchy theory – self actualisation which are only to be considered after all the basics physiological and psychological needs are met. There are two types of self actualisation consumers: Consumers come from better economic background whose other needs in the Malsow theory are satisfied and pursue self fulfilment in a way of living in a healthy lifestyle; Consumers hold strong value in healthy living, environment protection and animal welfare willing to prioritize self actualisation before other needs. As a result, marketer should maximize the healthy benefit of organic food and leverage current environment and animal issue for a better awareness result.
The consumption of organic food is found among middle to upper class due to its high price. With recent price adjustment of organic food in Aldi aiming at low income consumers and more young consumers joining the purchasing, organic consumption’s social class boundary is starting to fade. Marketers should increase the exposure to the lower consider 4A’s when targeting the lower class.