Appetite. 2015 Dec 21. pii: S0195-6663(15)30127-6
Honey is becoming increasingly popular with consumers for its nutritional benefits as well as many other functions. The objective of this article is to determine which factors influence consumers' purchase intentions and to assess the importance of certain honey characteristics to enable identification of the constituents of an ideal honey profile. This information will lead to satisfaction of consumers' preferences and formulation of marketing strategies that support honey makers. We applied a choice experiment to the Italian honey market to define the preferences and the willingness to pay for key characteristics of the product. A face-to-face questionnaire survey was conducted in 2014 (January-July) among Italian consumers; it was completed by 427 respondents. A latent class model was estimated and four classes were identified, with different preferences, illustrating that respondents seem to be heterogeneous honey consumers Results suggest the "organic" attribute was more important than others factors, such as the place where the honey was produced (landscape), but less important than the country of origin; local Italian honey was preferred to foreign honey. Respondents showed a higher willingness to pay (WTP) for honey from their country of origin versus the production method used. Our results suggest that while organic beekeeping might be an important strategy for diversification, if suitable communication is not taken into consideration, the added value of the production method might not be perceived by consumers.