Consumer perception of bio-based products-An exploratory study in 5 European countries

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This study explores people's perceptions (i.e., positive and negative associations, mixed feelings) regarding the concept of 'bio-based' in general and specific bio-based products. This exploratory study is one of the first consumer studies in the field of bio-based research. Three focus group discussions were organized in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and The Netherlands (with 89 participants in total) in which projective techniques were applied.Results of these group discussions indicate that participants are unfamiliar with 'bio-based' as a concept. 'Bio-based' is most often associated with positive environmental issues as "naturalness" and "environmental friendly" but also with negative environmental associations and to a lesser extent with technological and health issues. Associations with 'bio-based' as a general concept and with particular bio-based products can be simultaneously positive and negative, which caused uncertainty and mixed feelings by the respondents. This idea highlights both the complexity of and a lack of familiarity with the concept of 'bio-based'. Consumers have a holistic perception of bio-based products, i.e., they combine their perception of different aspects of the product in an evaluation of the whole product concept (e.g., their perception of the original product, usability, production method, proportion of bio-based materials used, price, packaging material, and appearance). Discussions on 'bio-based' as a concept are more general and abstract, while discussions and associations related to bio-based products are more specific. This study's qualitative approach illustrates in detail the great variety in consumers' perceptions, which can be both cognitive and affective (including positive, negative and mixed feelings towards 'bio-based' as a concept as well as bio-based products).

Original languageEnglish
Article number77
Pages (from-to)61-69
JournalNJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Associations
  • Bio-based products
  • Consumers' perception
  • Feelings and emotions
  • Focus group discussions


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