Danish and German organic wine buyers´ purchasing motives: An exploratory study using means-end chain analysis

Sarah Johanna Margaretha Netter & Jane Deters

Student thesis: Master thesis


The aim of this study is to explore the values and motives which underlie organic wine buying behaviour in the Danish and German context. Organic wine consumer behaviour has in comparison with other organic food products not received as much attention among researchers yet. Thus, the insights gained in this study into the buying behaviour of organic wine consumers in the two leading organic food markets Denmark and Germany provide the organic wine market, currently being at the borderline between niche and mainstream, with valuable information. This might contribute to improving the marketing efforts of organic winemakers as well as their umbrella organizations and strengthen their position. This exploratory study, which investigates the decision making processes of occasional organic wine buyers, adopts a mixed method approach, combining expert interviews, consumer interviews and an online consumer survey. The means-end chain approach was chosen for investigating the values and motives underlying the actual purchasing behaviour. The findings of this study reveal that pleasure is most central to the decision making of consumers from both countries. While Danish consumers are strongly influenced by a notion of solidarity and social recognition, German consumers display a pronounced concern for environmentalism and health. Despite heterogeneous values underlying the decision making, a value synthesis has been identified. Consumers from both countries, regardless of age or gender, appear to be driven by a combination of socially and individually oriented values. Pertaining to this, values of social nature appear for the most part to merely constitute a means to an end, namely contributing to individually oriented values. On the one hand, socially oriented values create a good conscience, which is found to increase consumption pleasure. On the other hand, these values are often used in hindsight to justify, conceal or counterbalance the hedonic elements of consumption. Furthermore, involvement, knowledge, personal experience, and risk are found to be key factors informing the decision making process, especially with regard to the cues used for evaluating product alternatives. In reference to this, packaging is decisive in its function to attract attention and reduce the existing information asymmetry between producers and consumers. Considering the hedonic elements of wine consumption, the organic characteristic is subordinate to taste and quality. While organic wines need to fulfil the same requirements as conventional wines, the organic feature has the potential of offering additional benefit, which might tip the scale in favour of organic wines when making a decision.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011