210 German consumers of organic food between 19 and 75 years and of whom two thirds were women and one third men took part in the trial. Half of them were occasional organic buyers, the other half, “intensive organic food consumers.”
“The results show that products with a claim were not significantly preferred nor rejected. Occasional organic buyers, however, were significantly more likely to choose products with a claim,” the researchers wrote.
“Choice of a product with a claim was determined by whether respondents had read the claim and thought it indicated equal or better health performance.”
They concluded, “that nutrition and health claims can be beneficial in the marketing of organic products, especially when addressing occasional organic consumers.”
Participants were given five euros and invited to a lab where they chose among five organic brands in three claim categories: A nutrition claim; a health claim or a health risk reduction claim. Or they bore no claims.
The claims were rotated equally among the five organic brands to avoid the brands influencing the choice of a product with or without a claim.
They were then asked to rank the foods on a scale of 1-10 on their respective healthiness, with only occasional organic buyers expressing a preference for claims.
“The communication of functional characteristics and any worries attached to these does not seem to pose a ‘threat’ to favourable buying intentions by organic consumers, not even intensive buyers of organic food with their rather different ideology,” the researchers said.
The trial comes in the wake of other studies that showed organic shoppers were not fans of health claims.
Of that perceived mismatch the researchers observed, “There are apparently a number of reasons why functional food and organic food could be perceived as contradictory by consumers, due to the difference in naturalness, health-related message, market actors and ingredient-focus versus system-view.”
Volume 30, Issue 1, October 2013, Pages 68–76
‘Are organic consumers preferring or avoiding foods with nutrition and health claims?’
Authors: Jessica Aschemann-Witzel, Nicole Maroscheck, Ulrich Hamm