Date of Award

12-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Forestry and Environmental Conservation

Committee Member

Dr. Michael Vassalos, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Marzieh Motallebi, Committee Co-Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Charles Privette

Abstract

This study utilized an online survey administered to Kentucky and South Carolina in conjunction with discrete choice modeling to examine: i) the impact of several factors including demographic characteristics, purchasing behaviors, and frequency of seafood consumption on consumer's preferences for specific seafood attributes (e.g. fresh over frozen, wild-caught over farm-raised), ii) the impact of the aforementioned consumer characteristics, on the probability that an individual will be interested in joining a CSF arrangement in the future. The results indicate that demographic characteristics, and lifestyle preferences have a statistically significant effect on consumer's preferences for both tangible and intangible seafood characteristics. However, divergences remain. For example, findings indicate that female consumers are more likely to have their purchasing decisions entirely influenced by sustainability but it is not a statistically significant parameter for fresh vs. frozen preferences. Similarly, respondents who attended graduate school are more likely to let seafood characteristics other than price affect their purchasing decisions but education has no statistically significant effect on fresh vs frozen preferences. Furthermore, respondents who grew up within 50 miles from the coast, or are reside in South Carolina are more likely to prefer fresh seafood products. These findings have important marketing implications as competition in the seafood industry increases. It can assist the industry to better target their marketing endeavors and better understand the factors influencing consumer preferences. Regarding CSF membership, the findings indicate consumers who have children under 18 in the household are more likely to join a CSF. Likewise, consumers who shop at farmer's markets for groceries are more likely to join a CSF. However, most of the other factors examined did not have a statistically significant effect on the probability that a consumer will join a CSF. These results may indicate that despite the recent growth in the CSF industry, attracting new members is a very challenging endeavor. Thus, fishermen should not focus all their marketing attention on CSFs.

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