Luring Locavores

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Luring Locavores


A new study reveals that members of the female and older populations are more likely to purchase beef locally, and that local farmers should update their marketing messages to reflect this trend.

According to a survey conducted by Kansas State University researcher Sarah Bernard, women and those over 55 years old are most likely to buy their beef from local farms, due to an interest in supporting the local community, as well as environmental and health issues. Reasons for avoiding local products – the barrier factors - include higher prices, inconvenience and unfamiliar brands.

“Females, who tend to be the primary consumer when it comes to food products, and the older population seemed to have a great motivation and calling to buy local products, and this appeared to be very important to them,” said Bernard, who recently earned her master’s degree in agribusiness.

Bernard found that women responded with higher levels of agreement with motivating factors compared to male respondents. Those younger than 25 agreed more with barriers to buy, while those older than 55 showed higher levels of motivation to purchase locally.

Consumers across all demographics revealed local support as the greatest motivating factor and price as the main barrier in purchasing local beef. Those who had previously purchased locally, however, showed greater disagreement with barrier factors than respondents who had not.

“Many of the barrier factors were lower for those who had previously purchased local beef,” said Kevin Gwinner, Bernard’s adviser and head of Manhattan-based Kansas State’s marketing department. “As such, there is an opportunity to lower barriers by providing opportunities for consumers to taste the beef or by enticing them to make a small initial purchase.”

The research could help farmers capitalize on the local food movement by enhancing their marketing messages to target this niche market through the promotion of local agriculture.

“The theme of supporting local agriculture found appeal across all ages, genders and income levels, and this theme would likely be favored in marketing campaigns,” she added. “Buying local is not meant to compete with larger beef production in America, but famers can better serve this small market to fill the very specific needs of consumers who want to buy local products.”

The survey results comprised more than 400 consumer responses.