Exploring consumers’ perceptions of local food with two different qualitative techniques: Laddering and word association

Katariina Roininen (Corresponding Author), Anne Arvola, Liisa Lähteenmäki

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    324 Citations (Scopus)


    In recent years, a growing number of consumers in Finland have started to show interest in the origin of the foods they eat. Although the concept of local food has been launched to describe food produced near the consumer, it is not yet well-defined and consumers may understand it in different ways. The aim of the study was to establish the personal values, meanings and specific benefits consumers relate to local food products by comparing two different qualitative interview techniques: laddering and word association methods. Product names, presented as cards for participants, were used as stimulus material. In the word association (n = 25), four product categories (general term, fresh pork meat, marinated pork slices, and pork sausage) and of four types of production method or production location (locally, organically, conventionally and intensively produced) were presented. In laddering (n = 30), the production methods were the same as in the word association method, with the exception that there were only two product categories, instead of four. The content analysis of the participants’ responses resulted in very similar categories in both studies, such as “quality”, “locality”, “vitality of rural areas”, “short transportation distances”, “freshness”, and “animal well-being”. Only the laddering study, however, revealed cognitive structures, i.e., links between such constructs as “short transport” and “animal welfare”. Word association was found to be an efficient and rapid method for gathering information on consumer perceptions of local foods. Laddering interviews, which were time-consuming and required laborious analysis, provided us with important information on the relationship between perceived attributes and the reasons for choices.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)20-30
    Number of pages11
    JournalFood Quality and Preference
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed
    EventThe First European Conference on Sensory Science of Food and Beverages: A sense of Identity - Florence, Italy
    Duration: 26 Sept 200429 Sept 2004


    • Local
    • Organic
    • Laddering
    • Word association


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