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Evaluation of consumers’ purchasing process for organic food products

1 Department of Agricultural Food and Environment (Di3A) University of Catania, Italy
2 Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture (DICAR) University of Catania

Special Editions: Consumer sensory perception and quality of food: trends in sensory branding

This research analyzes consumers’ different purchasing attitudes in traditional and on-line markets. Italy’s on-line direct selling process for organic farm products is still in its formative phase, and the prospective developments mark an interesting research area, not least because it may represent a tool to integrate the relationship with customers and improve companies’ marketing strategies. The research carried out on the direct selling on-line channels allowed the authors to prove a direct and indirect utility for the choice of organic food products. Information obtained with word-of-mouth among consumers seems to be playing an increasingly relevant role in the purchasing process of the virtual community, representing a strong generator of messages and experiences both in virtual and traditional markets. This paper analyzes the behavior of consumers to understand whether it is conditioned more by off-line than on-line channels and which parameters condition the purchasing process. The research confirms that off-line channels for organic products condition the consumers’ choices, linked to traditional word-of-mouth as well as to experiential and sensory direct marketing contact with the producer. An inverse behavior was observed with positive conditions that mostly emanate from on-line channels in the process of buying organic products. The on-line purchasing process involves the system of information linked to the product, i.e., the e-community, which allows the product to be shown together with the comments, evaluations, and recommendations of consumers on the net, reducing the effects generated by the packaging and the brand.
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