Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 467–480 | Cite as

What are the odds of being an organic or local food shopper? Multivariate analysis of US food shopper lifestyle segments

  • Lydia Zepeda
  • Cong Nie


The growth in organic and local foods consumption has been examined using two different approaches to identify characteristics and motivations of food shoppers: market segmentation and economic models using multivariate analysis. The former approach, based on Means-end Chain theory, examines how intrinsic characteristics of foods affect food choices. The latter microeconomic approach examines economic constraints and extrinsic factors. This study demonstrates value in combining the two approaches to generate better empirical predictions of who buys organic and local food. It also supports a broader theoretical framework to explain behavior in terms of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Using US data, an adaptation of the Food Related Lifestyle model yields four consumer lifestyles segmented by intrinsic motivations related to food. Each consumer segment exhibits distinct organic and local foods consumption behaviors. A multinomial logit model is estimated to examine the probability of being in one of these four groups as a function of extrinsic variables and economic constraints. In support of Alphabet theory and Regulatory Focus theory, we find that inclusion of extrinsic factors improves prediction of behavior and the ability to explain why they buy organic and local foods. The extrinsic variables that significantly increase the probability of being in a particular consumer food lifestyle segment include: environmental concerns, health practices, race, the presence of a farmers’ market, and to a lesser degree, family composition and income. We also find regulatory focus is most pronounced among the most active organic and local food shoppers.


Alphabet theory Consumer behavior Lifestyle segmentation 



Food related lifestyle



This project was supported by the National Research Initiative of the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, USDA, Grant #2002–01772 and is gratefully acknowledged. The authors thank all who participated in the survey.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Consumer ScienceUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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