Abstract: This qualitative study addresses the question what food shopping preferences self-identified ethical consumers have and whether they are able to translate them into respective shopping behavior. Special focus is thereby laid on the question whether they care about sufficiency. We firstly investigate what food shopping preferences self-identified ethical consumers have and which of them meet sufficiency criteria. Secondly, we aim to find characteristic food shopping preference patterns. Thirdly, we investigate which of their preferences ethical consumers implement in shopping behavior. Finally, we explore the reasons ethical consumers give to explain gaps between their preferences and their behavior. The study is based on fourteen in-depth interviews with self-identified ethical consumers. Shopping receipts were also collected to compare participants’ self-reports with their actual behavior. We found firstly that most study participants named ethical and hedonic criteria (pleasure, convenience) among their most important preferences. Secondly, we were able to identify two major preference patterns: one group of participants had sufficiency-oriented and other ethical preferences, whereas the other preferred non-sufficiency-related ethical criteria. Thirdly, we could confirm a gap between participants’ preferences and their behavior. Finally, we identified a number of intrinsic and extrinsic reasons self-identified ethical consumers gave to justify deviating from their preferences.

Wastian, M. & Hickfang, T. (2022) Do they care about sufficiency? Exploring ethical consumers’ food shopping preferences and behavior. Umweltpsychologie 26(1), 33-53.

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