The Organic Market in Norway - Yet to be Unleashed: A Study of the Norwegian Millennials' Perception, Attitudes and Motivation Towards Organic Food and Consumption

Line Lyngaas & Julie Therese Jølsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Background – During the last decade, there has been a growing interest in clean, healthy and sustainable food where organic food has emerged as a growing consumption trend. Although there is a big focus on healthy eating in Norway, the organic market is still low compared to other countries. In addition, it has become a common belief by many consumers that organic food is healthier than conventional food, despite the fact that the “organic” term entails no such claim (Schuldt & Schwarz 2010). Purpose – Numerous studies have been conducted on organic food consumption, usually on a wide range of the population. However, studies within sub-groups of the population is lacking. Additionally, the relation between eating organic, lifestyle factors and health behavior are not well-described, and few studies have been done on organic behavior in Norway. Thus, the objective of this thesis is to study a narrow group of the population, specifically in Oslo, Norway, and within the group of Millennials. The choice of our target group is based on previous research, explaining Millennials as health conscious, trend-setters and increasingly concerned with ethical food practices (Gregalis 2014). In this light, the main objective of this thesis is to achieve an understanding of Norwegian Millennials’ perception, attitudes and motivation towards organic food and consumption. Philosophical- and theoretical approach – This study draws inspiration from the interpretive approach as we seek to investigate factors that influence Millennials’ decision-making, as well as their perception, attitudes and motivation towards organic food and consumption. It further follows the structure of both explanatory and exploratory studies to explain and seek new insight of the relationship between Millennials, organic food and the Norwegian organic Ø-label. Methodology – This thesis takes a multi-methodical qualitative approach by collecting data through indepth interviews, focus groups and in-store observation. We have carried out 12 in-depth interviews, 4 focus groups and 17 observations, which constitutes a total of 46 participants. The ‘Research Onion’ has been employed to structure the entire research process. Findings – The interpretation of the results from our study, conclude that most of the Millennials had overall positive attitudes towards organic food, they trusted the Ø-label and their willingness to buy was high. However, the felt barriers appeared to have a huge impact on consumers’ organic behavior, where lack of knowledge and the expensive price were seen as the major ones. Due to these barriers, some expressed negative attitudes, which took the shape of skepticism. Many consumers further held the perception that organic consumption is based on creating an image, identity and status. While others stated that organic food and the Ø-label was the right product choice, a reflection of personal attitudes. Conclusion and recommendations – The results indicate diverse perceptions, attitudes and motivation towards organic food and the Ø-label. Based on positive attitudes and willingness to buy, there seems to be a great potential for an increased organic market in Norway. However, the barriers prevent many from buying, due to price, lack of knowledge, availability and visibility. In this light, these barriers must be reduced in order to meet customer expectations and better motivate consumer behavior towards organic food. Accordingly, our findings have resulted in four recommendations, which we consider useful in increasing organic food consumption in Norway. These will be elaborated in the end of the thesis. Increase knowledge through a joint communication campaign. Optimal visualization of organic sections and products. Improve visual features on packaging design – increase attention and help consumers distinguish organic from conventional. Establish an incentive to purchase – offering membership discount on organic food. Keywords – Organic food, Ø-label, Millennials, consumer behavior, health, lifestyle

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages129
SupervisorsJesper Clement