This paper highlights some of the cultural values, consumption goals and product/market channel attributes important for the decision making of consumers buying food from marketing initiatives characterised by short market channels. Examples of short market channels are : a shop at the farm, a farmers' market, some of the labels qualifying food as specific with regard to its origin or its production method. The paper also analyses to what extent the concerned initiatives take the consumers' perspective into account in their marketing strategies and makes some suggestions on how they can improve their marketing strategies. The framework of the study is the Means-End-Chain theory (MEG-theory), a useful frame for this study as it allows to understand how consumers use tangible characteristics of the marketing initiative and its product in order to achieve certain ends, i.e. consumption goals and cultural values which people wish to hold. The Means-End-Chains of customers have been elicited and analysed using the "Laddering" research method. Some main conclusions are : The desire for security with regard to health is a major reason for consumers to buy pure and natural food of known origin, not just guaranteed by a formal label but also by the (semi)-direct contact with the producer and the shortness of the commercialisation chain. This shortness of the chain also allows obtaining the desired specific quality products at an affordable price. Furthermore "pleasure" is an important value in the consumer's motivation to buy this kind of products; it results from enjoying the specific taste but also from the contact with rural life. A comparison between the customers' motivation and the product concept as formulated by the actors of the initiatives shows that in most cases both groups have a similar vision on products and their desired quality. However several initiatives are slow to adjust to and benefit from the evolving attitude of the consumer towards food quality; they fail to take advantage of emerging consumer trends and values. This is mainly because of a strong focus on their products rather than on consumer needs and a lack of communication with consumers outside their normal public.


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