Gender Differences Associated with Local, Organic, and Sustainable Term Perceptions Academic Article uri icon


  • Federal regulation of terms like local and organic ensure consistency in the marketplace, but unregulated terms such as eco-friendly and sustainable vary widely in use. A survey of representative US and Canadian consumers with questions including demographic, purchasing behavior, and attitude questions revealed varying perceptions of local, organic, eco-friendly, and sustainable terms based on gender. Respondents were shown a list of potential positive and negative characteristics that could be associated with the terms and then asked to choose any and all characteristics they associated with the specific term. For local and organic, which are governmentally regulated, a large percentage of consumers have incorrect perceptions. Notably, women tend to have incorrect perceptions about local while men are more likely to be wrong about organic. Women also tend to associate beneficial characteristics, which may or may not be true, with local and organic at a higher rate than males. With respect to eco-friendly and sustainable labels, which are not currently regulated, women are again more likely to associate beneficial characteristics with the terms at a higher rate than men. Taking these findings into account, policy makers wishing to change public perception need to develop strategies that are heterogeneous in nature. Implications for producers and retailers also suggest that producers and retailers should understand the makeup of their clientele and offer messages that target each segment accordingly.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Campbell, B. L., Behe, B. K., Khachatryan, H., Hall, C. R., & Dennis, J. M.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Campbell, BL||Behe, BK||Khachatryan, H||Hall, CR||Dennis, JM

publication date

  • July 2015