A sequence analysis of organic and conventional food consumers’ visual information acquisition

  • Manika Rödiger Department of Agricultural and Food Marketing, University of Kassel, Germany
  • Enrique Garcia Moreno-Esteva Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Meike Janssen Department of Agricultural and Food Marketing, University of Kassel, Germany
  • Ulrich Hamm Department of Agricultural and Food Marketing, University of Kassel, Germany
Keywords: consumer behaviour, eye-tracking, organic food, price, sequence analysis, visual attention phases


It is of significant importance in food marketing to know which pieces of information available during shopping are most relevant to consumers. The visual search behaviour of consumers allows inference on the relevance of information based on what information is acquired and when. It is assumed that price is a major barrier to the purchase of organic food. However, little is known about consumers’ actual acquisition of information on organic food prices. To examine the information acquisition behaviour of consumers buying organic and consumers buying conventional food, a shopping simulation study was run in which participants (n=189) were invited to choose between different unfamiliar organic and conventional product alternatives while wearing eye-tracking glasses. The data were divided into three visual attention phases: orientation phase, comparison phase, and evaluation phase. The information intake in the phases was investigated comparing organic and conventional consumers. Organic consumers acquired less information on conventional prices in the orientation and evaluation phases. It is concluded that for organic consumers, price information is less relevant to making a purchase decision compared to consumers of conventional food.

Data of the article

First received: 07 August 2018 | Last revision received: 30 January 2019
Accepted: 27 March 2019 | Published online: 26 July 2019


Aertsens, J., Mondelaers, K., Verbeke, W., Buysse, J., & van Huylenbroeck, G. (2011). The influence of subjective and objective knowledge on attitude, motivations, and consumption of organic food. British Food Journal, 113(11), 1353-1378. DOI: 10.1108/00070701111179988

Aschemann-Witzel, J., & Zielke, S. (2017). Can’t buy me green? A review of consumer perceptions of and behavior toward the price of organic food. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 51(1), 211-251 DOI:10.1111/joca.12092

Balcombe, K, Fraser, I., & McSorley, E. (2015). Visual attention and attribute attendance in multi-attribute choice experiments. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 30(3), 447-467. DOI:10.1002/jae.2383

Bezawada, R., & Pauwels, K. (2013). What is special about marketing organic products? How organic assortment, price, and promotions drive retailer performance. Journal of Marketing, 77, 31–51. (ISSN: 1547-7185)

Bialkova, S., Grunert, K. G., Juhl, H. J., Wasowicz-Kirylo, G., Stysko-Kunkowska, M., & van Trijp, H. C. (2014). Attention mediates the effect of nutrition label information on consumers' choice. Evidence from a choice experiment involving eye-tracking. Appetite, 76, 66-75. DOI:10.1016/j.appet.2013.11.021

Buder, F., Feldmann, C., & Hamm, U. (2014). Why regular buyers of organic food still buy many conventional products: Product-specific purchase barriers for organic food consumers. British Food Journal, 116(3), 390-404. DOI:10.1108/BFJ-04-2012-0087

Chandon, P., Hutchinson, J. W., Bradlow, E. T., & Young, S. H. (2009). Does in-store marketing work? Effects of the number and position of shelf facings on brand attention and evaluation at the point of purchase. Journal of Marketing, 73, 1-17. (ISSN: 1547-7185)

Clement, J. (2007). Visual influence on in-store buying decisions - An eye-track experiment on the visual influence of packaging design. Journal of Marketing Management, 23(9-10), 917-928. DOI:10.1362/026725707X250395

Feiereisen, S., Wong, V., & Broderick, A. J. (2008). Analogies and mental simulations in learning for really new products – The role of visual attention. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 25(6), 593-607. DOI:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2008.00324.x

Frostling-Henningsson, M., Hedbom, M., & Wilandh, L. (2014). Intentions to buy “organic” not manifested in practice. British Food Journal, 116(5), 872-887. DOI:10.1108/BFJ-11-2010-0190

Gere, A., Danner, L., Antoni, N. de, Kovács, S., Dürrschmid, K., & Sipos, L. (2016). Visual attention accompanying food decision process - An alternative approach to choose the best models. Food Quality and Preference, 51, 1-7. DOI:10.1016/j.foodqual.2016.01.009

Gidlöf, K., Anikin, A., Lingonblad, M., & Wallin, A. (2017). Looking is buying - How visual attention and choice are affected by consumer preferences and properties of the supermarket shelf. Appetite, 116, 29-38. DOI:10.1016/j.appet.2017.04.020

Glöckner, A. & Herbold, A. (2010). An eye-tracking study on information processing in risky decisions: Evidence for compensatory strategies based on automatic processes. Behavioral Decision Making, 24(1), 71-98. DOI:10.1002/bdm.684

Gottschalk, I., & Leistner, T. (2013). Consumer reactions to the availability of organic food in discount supermarkets. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 37(2), 136-142. DOI:10.1111/j.1470-6431.2012.01101.x

Graham, D. J., Orquin, J. L., & Visschers, V. H. M. (2012). Eye tracking and nutrition label use - A review of the literature and recommendations for label enhancement. Food Policy, 37(4), 378-382. doi:10.1016/j.foodpol.2012.03.004

Helmert, J. R., Symmank, C., Pannasch, S., & Rohm, H. (2017). Have an eye on the buckled cucumber - An eye tracking study on visually suboptimal foods. Food Quality and Preference, 60, 40-47. DOIi:10.1016/j.foodqual.2017.03.009

Hessisches Statistisches Landesamt (2016). Statistische Berichte - Das verfügbare Einkommen der privaten Haushalte in Hesse 2008 bis 2014 nach kreisfreien Städten und Landkreisen. Kennziffer P I 4 –j/2000-2014 rev.

Holmqvist, K., Nyström, M., Andersson, R., Dewhurst, R., Jarodzka, H., & van de Weijer, J. (2011). Eye tracking – A comprehensive guide to methods and measures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hoyer, W. D., & MacInnis, D. J. (2010). Consumer behaviour (5th ed.). London: South-Western/Cengage Learning.

Husić-Mehmedović, M., Omeragić, I., Batagelj, Z., & Kolar, T. (2017). Seeing is not necessarily liking. Advancing research on package design with eye-tracking. Journal of Business Research, 80, 145–154. DOI:10.1016/j.jbusres.2017.04.019

Krajbich, I., Armel, C., & Rangel, A. (2010). Visual fixations and the computation and comparison of value in simple choice. Nature Neuroscience, 13(10), 1292–1298. DOI:10.1038/nn.2635

Krajbich, I., Lu, D., Camerer, C., & Rangel, A. (2012). The attentional drift-diffusion model extends to simple purchasing decisions. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 193. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00193

McHugh, M. L. (2012). Interrater reliability: The kappa statistic. Biochemia Medica, 22(3), 276-282.

Milosavljevic, M., Navalpakkam, V., Koch, C., & Rangel, A. (2012). Relative visual saliency differences induce sizeable bias in consumer choice. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22(1), 67-74. DOI:10.1016/j.jcps.2011.10.002

Moser, A. K. (2016). Consumers' purchasing decisions regarding environmentally friendly products: An empirical analysis of German consumers. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 31, 389-397. DOI:10.1016/j.jretconser.2016.05.006

Orquin, J. L., & Mueller Loose, S. (2013). Attention and choice: a review on eye movements in decision making. Acta Psychologica, 144(1), 190-206. DOI:10.1016/j.actpsy.2013.06.003

Pärnamets, P., Johansson, R., Gidlöf, K., & Wallin, A. (2016). How information availability interacts with visual attention during judgment and decision tasks. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 29(2-3), 218-231. DOI:10.1002/bdm.1902

Perry, B. D., & Grace, D. C. (2015). How growing complexity of consumer choices and drivers of consumption behaviour affect demand for animal source foods. EcoHealth 12, 703-712. DOI:10.1007/s10393-015-1091-7

Rayner, K. (1998). Eye movements in reading and information processing – 20 years of research. Psychological Bulletin, 124(3), 372-422.

Reutskaja, E., Nagel, R., Camerer, C., & Rangel, A. (2011). Search dynamics in consumer choice under time pressure – An eye-tracking study. American Economic Review, 101(2), 900-926. DOI:10.1257/aer.101.2.900

Russo, J. E., & Leclerc, F. (1994). An eye-fixation analysis of choice processes for consumer nondurables. Journal of Consumer Research, 21(2), 274-290. DOI:10.1086/209397

Siegrist, M., Leins-Hess, R., & Keller, C. (2015). Which front-of-pack nutrition label is the most efficient one? The results of an eye-tracker study. Food Quality and Preference, 39, 183-190. DOI:10.1016/j.foodqual.2014.07.010

Solomon, M. R. (2015), Consumer behavior (11th ed.) Harlow, Essex, England: Pearson Education Limited.

Stadt Kassel – Fachstelle Statistik (2017). Statistikatlas Kassel. Retrieved from: http://statistikatlas.kassel.de/bericht1/atlas.html

van Herpen, E., van Nierop, E., & Sloot, L. (2012). The relationship between in-store marketing and observed sales for organic versus fair trade products. Marketing Letters, 23(1), 293–308. DOI:10.1007/s11002-011-9154-1

van Loo, E., Nayga Jr, R. M., Seo, H.-S., & Verbeke, W. (2014). Visual attribute non-attendance in a food choice experiment - Results from an eye-tracking study. Selected paper prepared for presentation at the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association’s 2014 AAEA Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN, July 27-29, 2014.

Willer, H., & Lernoud, J. (Eds.). (2018). The world of organic agriculture - Statistics and emerging trends 2018. Frick: Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), and Bonn: IFOAM – Organics International.

Zander, K., & Hamm, U. (2012). Information search behavior and its determinants: The case of ethical attributes of organic food. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 36, 307-316. DOI:10.1111/j.1470-6431.2011.00998.x

Zander, K., & Hamm, U. (2010). Consumer preferences for additional ethical attributes of organic food. Food Quality and Preference, 21, 495-503. DOI:10.1016/j.foodqual.2010.01.006

How to Cite
Rödiger, M., Moreno-Esteva, E., Janssen, M., & Hamm, U. (2019). A sequence analysis of organic and conventional food consumers’ visual information acquisition. Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture and Society, 7(2/3), 102. Retrieved from http://fofj.org/index.php/FOFJ/article/view/254
Research Articles