Organic Foods Motivations Factors for Consumers

Consumer motivation is an internal state that encourages people to purchase goods or use services that fulfil their desires and needs. The satisfaction of those services can lead to repeating the same purchase even if is not needed at the moment (Consumer Behavior and Marketing Action; Henry Assael; 1992). Nowadays the general aim is to produce new food that can satisfy consumer needs or to be healthy and to fulfil the nutritional and ethical criteria (Bäckström, Pirttilä-Backman & Tuorila, 2002).

The consumer motivations for purchasing organic food are linked to the Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” which could be split into basic and growth needs. The basic requirements are psychological (food, water, sleep), safety, esteem and the higher level are self-actualisation needs (Mcray, 2015). According to Maslow firstly the person has to fulfil the basic needs to be motivated to meet the growth needs (McLeod, S. A., 2007). They have the power to motivate the person and to help him with the decision making (Schmutte, 2013).

The consumer chooses to purchase organic food for many reasons like health, better taste, social consciousness, ethical reasons, animal welfare, environmental consciousness etc. However, the motivations for purchasing or not organic food are still not completely understood (Hansen, Sorensen & Eriksen, 2018).

Motivations to Purchase Organic Food

Health as a Motivation

Two studies (Nutrition Today, 2009; Hoefkens et al., 2009) provide evidence that organic food is not healthier compared to ordinarily produced food. However, many consumers still think that it is healthier to eat natural products and even the taste is better.

This leads to one of the motivation examples of purchasing organic food – health benefits (Nasir and Karakaya, 2013). It is well known that long-term health concerns for self and others, reflects in the motivation behind food choices (Scarpa and Thiene, 2013). Health consciousness has a more significant influence on organic food identity when the level of self-enhancement is higher. If there is a lack of information about the products, focusing on health is a great way to motivate people to try something that they usually wouldn’t. Those health benefits are motivation mostly for the older consumers because they are more self‐conscious about their health, but in recent studies is found that this is one of the main reasons for the younger generation to consume organic food too (Hwang, 2016).

Food Safety

Another motivation related to health benefits is “food safety”. Those food safety concerns are linked to issues about the excess of pesticides, chemical sprays and artificial additives, contamination of drinking water. Consumers believe that organic vegetables are more vibrant in nutritional value and this motivates them to consume more organic food (Hoefkens et al., 2009). This is regarded as an egoistic motive, however, it can be identified as a caring consumption. This is the perfect motivation for families with kids to consume organic products because mothers are in charge of their child health and the want the best for them (Moscato, 2018). Moreover, The results from an international survey show that more than half of the people in 19 out of 35 counties are concerned about food safety, more than ten years ago (Ipsos-Reid, 2000).

The Difference Between the Motivation of Regular and Occasional Consumers

In a more recent study, the consumers are divided into two types: “regular” and “occasional”. Most of the “occasional” consumers are interested in purchasing organic food because of personal satisfaction, and the “regular” consumers are influenced by the ethical motivations to buy organic food (Pino, Alessandro and Guido, 2012).

Personal Satisfaction

The occasional consumers prefer the product to be tasty and to look good as well (Zanolli and Naspetti, 2002). In marketing, the consumers’ behaviour is formed from the first try of the product. Even if the “health” is the keyword in a purchase of organic food, the states such as hedonism also drive the person to use those products. They want to know more about the brand and overall to be aware of the quality of the product which they are consuming (Zanolli and Naspetti, 2002). This helps the marketers to bring the consumers attention by making better packaging and to note the best ingredients that they are using for their products. It is well known that one of the problems with consuming organic food is their cost but when the consumers are aware of the benefits and the quality that they can get from those products it is easier to convince them to try them no matter their higher price. We can see from the results of a questionnaire that the egoistic motives are better motivation for purchasing organic food than beneficent motives (Nasir and Karakaya, 2013).

Ethical Motivation

However, the ethical motivation has a significant impact on the consumers’ food choices too. This means that the buyers are making their food choices consciously due to their moral and personal beliefs (Carrigan, 2004). Ethical-consumer identity plays an essential role as personal motivation for organic consumers. Moreover, this type of motivation is key for the remaining interest in purchasing organic products (Hwang, 2016). There are a couple of hypotheses about which consumers are motivated ethically more often, and the answer is that this type of motivation reflects more on older consumers because they are more socially desirable.

Another frequently covered motivation is “self-presentation”. This is a component of self-identity and depends on the social environment in which the consumers are living (Hwang, 2017). They are using the food as a self-image that can make the other members of the society notices them. The message that the consumption of organic food delivers is that the organic consumers are leading a luxury lifestyle because of the higher prices of those products and all the things that we looked up in the previous paragraphs moreover that they are environmentally concerned (Bäckström et al., 2003; Belk, 1988; Mori et al., 1987; Schau and Gilly, 2003).

Environmental Concern and Animal Welfare

The concern about the environment is another essential factor that has a reflection on the consumers’ food choices (Magistris & Gracia, 2008). This is a motivation for many people to purchase organic food because nowadays, the society is starting to realise the problems that our planet is facing, and this motivates them to use environmental-friendly/ organic products (Webb, Mohr, & Harris, 2008). These consumers are known as ecologically responsible. The younger consumers are purchasing natural products because of their individual interest regarding the environment. However, for older consumers is more like a social obligation that affects their decision.
Animal welfare is one of the essential motivations related to environmental concerns which drive people to start thinking of changing their diet in this case, with organic meat (Mintel, 2003). This makes the consumers feel good about their choice and can be defined as an egoistic. Often women are more concern about that and the idea of the animals’ better health, the lack of chemicals, has a big reflection on the sales of organic food (Miranda-de la Lama, 2013).


In conclusion, the motivations for consumer purchasing organic food are more than enough. The consumers need to be aware of the products that they are consuming and here comes the marketer’s job. They need first of all to work on the labels and its certification and after that to target one of the fundamental motives that we talked about in the previous paragraphs and moreover to show people the difference between the conventional and the “natural” food. The key motivation is health, but the marketers have to remind that the organic food is related to states such as hedonism and when someone decides to purchase organic food they are choosing to take care of themselves and the whole environment.

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