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The Importance of Consumer Trust for the Emergence of a Market for Green Products: The Case of Organic Food

Abstract

Consumer trust is a key prerequisite for establishing a market for credence goods, such as “green” products, especially when they are premium priced. This article reports research on exactly how, and how much, trust influences consumer decisions to buy new green products. It identifies consumer trust as a distinct volition factor influencing the likelihood that consumers will act on green intentions and strongly emphasizes the needs to manage consumer trust as a prerequisite for the development of a market for green products. Specifically, based on a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods, it is found that lack of consumer trust is a barrier for the development of a market for organic food in Thailand. Two focus groups and ten in-depth interviews revealed low knowledge about and low trust in organic food, certification, control, and labeling. Further, a mall-intercept survey (N = 177) revealed that lack of (especially) system trust reduces consumer expectations about benefits of buying organic food, and it makes them less likely to buy organic food. Mistrust in the control system and in the authenticity of food sold as organic has a significant negative impact on self-reported buying behavior. Implications for policy and future research are discussed.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The sales of organic food in Thailand totaled about 10 million USD in 2012 (Euromonitor International 2013), which is only about .1 % of the domestic food market (Willer and Kilcher 2012).

  2. 2.

    Greennet (2011). Organic Market in Thailand. Available from: http://www.greennet.or.th/article/1009 [21 September 2014].

  3. 3.

    See also Icek Ajzen’s webpage at http://people.umass.edu/aizen/.

  4. 4.

    In 2011, imported products made up 58 % of the Thai organic market (Green Net 2012). Organic Products in Thailand’s Market 2011. Available from: http://www.greennet.or.th/article/1362 [21 September 2014].

  5. 5.

    A similar finding was reported in a qualitative study carried out in Shanghai, China (Sirieix et al. 2011).

  6. 6.

    See http://www.hrdi.or.th/en/who_we_are/page/Thailand-Royal-Project.

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Appendices

Appendix 1

See Table 5.

Table 5 Exploratory factor analysis of eight items measuring behavioral beliefs regarding organic food in Thailand—the rotated component matrix

Appendix 2

See Table 6.

Table 6 Exploratory factor analysis of eight items measuring trust in organic food in Thailand—the rotated component matrix

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Nuttavuthisit, K., Thøgersen, J. The Importance of Consumer Trust for the Emergence of a Market for Green Products: The Case of Organic Food. J Bus Ethics 140, 323–337 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-015-2690-5

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Keywords

  • Consumer trust
  • Credence goods
  • Green products
  • Organic food
  • Survey study
  • Thailand
  • Theory of planned behavior