Message effectiveness in the local food context

Koroulis, Catharine Kelly, author
Abrams, Katherine, advisor
Sivakumar, Gayathri, committee member
Thilmany-McFadden, Dawn, committee member
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The local food movement has grown in popularity and might be beneficial both to individuals and communities. Most messaging strategies around local foods incorporate environmental or social elements, however a dominant branding strategy does not currently exist. We uncovered three common factors that were found in several studies on motivators to purchase local foods. These motivating factors were food quality, healthfulness, and support of local farmers. We sought to identify if message frames around these motivations created positive attitudes and behavioral intent to purchase local foods. To test this relationship 408 study participants were recruited from general education courses at Colorado State University. The theories included in this study were framing theory and the theory of planned behavior, which includes attitude, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, and behavioral intent. Personality traits have been shown to moderate the effectiveness of message frames as well as attitudes toward local food. Therefore, personality traits were also taken into consideration as potentially moderating the relationship between frame type and attitudes/behavioral intent to purchase local foods. The factor-five model was used to evaluate personality types. The factor-five model includes the personality types neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness. Our results show that each frame type did not significantly influence participants’ attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, or behavioral intent to purchase local foods. This was the case both before and after personality traits were taken into consideration as moderating the relationship between frame type and behavioral intent. However, our main analysis did reveal that the personality trait openness is significantly related to each element of the theory of planned behavior model. Additional exploratory analysis shows that females are more likely to have favorable attitudes toward local food than males. Exploratory analysis also revealed that current and past production of food is related to a greater perceived behavioral control to purchase local foods. We suggest that the study might yield more meaningful results if pre-existing attitudes and elaboration on behalf of participants had been considered. We recommend a replication of this study with message strength and quality taken into greater consideration. In two separate areas of study, we also recommend further research on the relationship between attitudes toward local food and degrees of separation from food production as well as a possible link between the personality trait openness and local food sales.
2016 Fall.
Includes bibliographical references.
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