, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 59-76
Date: 12 Feb 2009

Consumer decision in the context of a food hazard: the effect of commitment

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The European market has faced a series of recurrent food scares, e.g. mad cow disease, chicken flu, dioxin poisoning in chickens, salmons and recently also in pigs (Italian newspaper “Corriere della Sera”, 07/12/2008). These food scares have had, in the short term, major socio-economic consequences, eroding consumer confidence and decreasing the willingness to buy potentially risky food products. The research reported in this paper considered the role of commitment to a food product in the context of food scares, and in particular the effect of commitment on the purchasing intentions of consumers, on their attitude towards the product, and on their trust in the food supply chain. After the initial commitment had been obtained, a threat scenario evoking a risk associated with a specific food was presented, and a wider, related request was then made. Finally, a questionnaire tested the effects of commitment on the participants’ attitude towards the product. The results showed that previous commitment can increase consumers’ behavioural intention to purchase and their attitude towards the food product, even in the presence of a potential hazard.