Store Choice and Consumer Behavior in Food Deserts: An Empirical Application of the Distance Metric Method

While food access is an increasingly studied component of research related to diet and health, consumer behavior and store choice have been relatively overlooked in understanding the dietary health-food access relationship. Especially in areas with high poverty rates, where the proportion of low-access and low-income population persists over time, consumers are faced with shopping at non-traditional stores, which may augment the negative welfare impacts of residing in these areas. Using IRI's Consumer Network Panel, IRI's InfoScan, and Nielsen's TDLinx store characteristics data, this paper develops a structural model of store choice that frames Pinkse, Slade, and Brett's (2002) distance metric (DM) method inside a demand system to model what behaviors drive consumers' store choice decisions, highlighting underserved communities. While the DM method has been used previously to model brand choice, this paper is the first to use it to investigate store choice. Because the store-choice model is based on demand for store attributes (such as relative prices, product assortment measures, store services, and distance between stores), it reveals consumer preferences for store types and provides insight into policy prescriptions that attempt to improve food access.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2019-08-30

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