Summer Dive into Data II

Understanding Consumer Interest in Product and Process-Based Attributes  for Fresh Produce (2008) Authors Bond/Thilmany/Bond


The choices consumers make about fresh produce, such as where it is purchased and what they are willing to pay, are likely influenced by a range of private and public attributes. This study uses factor and cluster analysis techniques to explore the preferences of consumers who responded to a 2006 national survey to determine the dimensions over which consumers make purchasing decisions and to identify key market segments. Analysis is based on a variety of survey questions relating to preferences for various fresh produce traits and process attributes, as well as willingness to pay for a subset of these attributes. We find that although there is only a small degree of correlation between tested variables, four consumer clusters can be identified as market segments: Urban, Assurance Seekers, Price Conscious Consumers, Quality and Safety Consumers, and Personal Value Buyers. Each cluster values both private and public attributes, though with differing intensities and focus.


This is the type of data that is so very helpful in refining messaging. Each of these clusters has a potential connection to farmers market shopping and by using their defined values, a market might just attract a new cluster of shoppers.

The paper covers 4 clusters:

Personal Value Buyers (PVB) 27.9%

Quality and Safety Consumers (QSC) 26.3%

Urban Assurance Seekers (UAS) 23.3%

Price Conscious Consumers (PCC) 22.4%



•Older, above-average educational attainment, relatively high incomes

•They value consistent availability and variety

•Do not value organic production, traceability, or relationship with producers as high as other groups

Potential Message: “The farmers market has x varieties of apples this month, including hard-to-find xx variety



•Lower to middle income, lower educational attainment, more concentrated in urban areas in South Atlantic and Pacific regions of U.S.

•They rank the importance of local production higher than the other clusters but choose indirect sales (grocery rather than farmers market or stands) for that local production

•Perceived safety is highly valued

Potential Message 1: “Fewer hands touching your food

Potential Message 2: “The farmers picked fresh this morning.”



•Relatively young, wealthy, more likely to live in urban South Atlantic and Pacific regions of U.S.

•Largest expenditures on produce

•Greater willingness to pay for organic, country of origin labeling

•Interested in potential public benefits

Potential Message 1: “Markets increase civic participation”

Potential Message 2: “Our market offers a children’s program that rewards kids for learning and participation.”

Potential Message 3: “More than half of our farmers offer certified organic products”



•Lower-income less education, young, evenly distributed across the U.S.

•Greater willingness to pay for higher nutrients (enhanced Vit C) and locally produced 

Potential Message 1: “Local is our primary purpose.”

Potential Message 2: ” Fresher is more nutritious”



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