3.1. Why Do Customers Buy the Goods or Services You Provide?
The respondents were interviewed based on their observations on general consumer purchasing behavior. The major themes are as follows:
Distribution plays an important role in the delivery channel between manufacturers and consumers.
S-1 stated: “Another key thing is your distribution; you have got to have products on every shelf… for example, Kellogg’s is famous… Heinz has three or four products on the shelves. Why do they do so well? Because people see them everywhere they go, and so form an emotional attachment. This is the result of the manufacturers’ marketing strategy, which creates a huge demand for their products in every outlet.”
C-2, a householder, noted that convenience was the most important factor for her purchase. C-1, a consumer who prefers organic products, believed “The availability comes first… then the affordability; if readily available, more people will consume it.” Andrew, the owner of a local shop, noted that “Location is very important.” Their testimonies suggest that greater availability should increase sales. “So, distribution… needs to be built, because you want to list in high volumes to get the high turnover. Well, one thing that drives it is… can the buyers buy it in a local shop?” Similar points such as shelf life and product endurance were also emphasized. Both S-1 and C-2 agreed that shelf life was important.
Product quality is an important factor in purchasing; for many, it may be among the top three factors in purchasing. S-2 believed that quality food could be an opportunity for small businesses to innovate and produce quality products. Yet, he claimed that “organic meat doesn’t taste any better than his (quality) meat.”
Branding is crucial for businesses as it creates value and emotional attachment with customers. Consumers place their faith in the most trusted brands. S-1 considers brand trust as a key reason people buy a product and the reason why many companies concentrate on branding. Many studies have focused on brand marketing 
. C-9 and C-1 said they purchased products only from what they considered a reliable source.
Price was mentioned by many consumers, including S-1, who argued: “At the moment in the current market, price promotions are ruling the roost. They are the keys to your business… and if you are not in there, your business will struggle. You have to price accordingly to allow you to market your product on the shelf… through price reduction, driven by the current economic climate.” However, it is not always the priority; as C-5, C-12, and C-1 state, other factors such as quality or health are superior to price. Usually, middle-aged consumers with above-average education do not care much about the price. S-1 claims that “Price is not the priority, and price here does not mean cheaper, it means the right price, it may be in the top ten or (even) the top four factors at the most.” C-12 also mentioned in the interview that “Organic food is my favorite… Price is not the first concern for purchasing …I always buy them without noticing the price.” However, S-3 argued that “Organic food markets are in decline, as the recession has led consumers to be more careful about their expenditure on food and they may not be prepared to pay the premium price associated with organic food.” C-7, a semi-retired teacher, states, “We don’t buy organic as it is too expensive!”
Health issues are a popular trend in businesses today. S-1 argues that “Food can feed people; it can also kill people; many diseases like diabetes and obesity are the result of a poor (quality) diet.” C-8 also mentioned that his purchase decision is influenced by his health concerns: “I am mainly concerned about salt and especially sugar content because diabetes is a terrible disease!” He is an example of a young and highly educated representative. C-3, a German consumer who just graduated from university, thinks that “people should take care of their bodies.” C-8 believes “You are what you eat!” The problem of obesity and health concerns prompted him to start eating healthier. “The side effect of chemicals in food or medicine needs to be considered.” S-1 stated that “freshness and health will be the future trend in the food industry… For competitiveness in the food industry, we need to be innovative… However, there is always a balance between health and affordability.”
Most organic consumers and vegetarians have a strong scientific awareness. Both individuals and corporations pay much more attention to social responsibility these days. C-4 claims: “I will try my best to reduce energy or package waste.” C-5, C-8, and C-9 said they would recycle as much as possible and try not to waste energy. Many companies are willing to exploit social responsibility in their marketing strategies. S-3 said: “All companies are concerned about corporate responsibility and are more aware of things like carbon footprint. We as a business are also mindful of the social impact of specific marketing campaigns, and take this into account when considering any new product development or specific campaigns.”
3.2. What Do Customers Really Value?
The results are analyzed according to the question of what customer value, which is summarized to present how results are interpreted as significant themes.
Today, everything is expected to be “fast.” Therefore, although people mention availability, shelf-life, or product endurance, they expect to obtain something efficiently or conveniently.
Consumers look for the quality of life rather than only survival. Hence, they expect food to be aesthetically appealing, of better quality and taste, and having variety. A significant attribute of food is its ability to impart mental satisfaction. C-2 emphasized it when she said she would not buy food solely because it was healthy; it must be aesthetically pleasing and appealing enough to persuade consumers to make a purchase.
The results reveal a consideration for brands or sources during purchase, as interviewees believe they give assurance of quality products that they can trust. Hence, in buying branded goods, people mostly pay for assurance and reliability.
Arguing that “organic food is better than artificial foods because of the latter’s adverse side effects,” C-1 talked about the long-term consequences of his unhealthy dietary pattern before he switched to organic food; his account highlighted the long-term health benefits of consuming organic foods. Furthermore, S-1 noted that consumers are willing to pay the right price and do not necessarily choose the lowest price. For example, C-12 claimed that she would not buy “Tesco’s Value Meat.” She goes to local shops to buy more expensive quality meat. These statements prove that people pursue products of value, and price is not the sole factor in the decision-making process. When they consider that the price too high, they refer to the value of products that must be appreciated and recognized. Therefore, marketers should set the right price to make customers feel that the product is worth their money.
Customers value healthier food to achieve happiness. E-1, a human nutrition student from a food standard agency, argued: “Health should be the priority… If you ask someone who suffers from a disease, they would tell you that there is no happiness without health.” However, C-1 would not value health unless he suffered an adverse health condition.
Ecological issues or social responsibility can be interpreted as long-term sustainability, as it is a value that is appreciated over a period. In other words, if businesses want to be sustainable in the long run, they cannot disregard the importance of environmental sustainability.