To test the influence of different definitions of "local," participants in this study will be randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: (1) one group includes those told that local potato chips are produced in Pennsylvania, and (2) a second group includes those informed that local potato chips are primarily sold in Pennsylvania. Participants, who live in diverse landscapes, will be asked to indicate their willingness to pay for local and non-local potato chips based on the definition of local provided to them.
Once given these definitions, participants will indicate their willingness to pay for local and non-local potato chips based on the definitions, and then complete a short demographic survey.
Specifically, participants will denote how much they're willing to pay for a bag of local and non-local potato chips of the same flavor and approximately the same weight. Prices range from $0 to $15, in increments of $0.10. Given individual preferences, it is acceptable if participants choose not to pay anything for certain types of potato chips, which could indicate a strong dislike for that specific type. However, to avoid an excess of invalid responses (instances where the participant is unwilling to pay for any type of potato chips), we will inform potential participants at experiment locations about the opportunity to purchase potato chips and earn extra money.
Through a short survey, demographic information such as gender, race, age, food shopping habits, and attitudes toward local food will be collected. As we also aim to examine rural-urban differences, we will collect participants' addresses to ensure a diverse sample. No names will be collected, and all data will be analyzed anonymously and reported statistically.
Participants will use tablets to complete the survey on Qualtrics. The experiment will be conducted outside supermarkets in in two different locations, one urban and one rural, in Pennsylvania.
Participants will receive a $10 grocery gift card for attending and completing the experiment, along with $15 in cash for participating in a purchasing game. This game enables them to buy potato chips at a randomly selected price. The Becker-DeGroot-Marschak (BDM) method will be used to gauge participants' willingness to pay. Participants will be taught this method before they state their willingness to pay for chips in the survey. At the end of the experiment, participants may purchase one type of potato chip if the selling price is lower or equal to their stated maximum willingness to pay.
To determine whether a purchase occurs, a drawing-like game will be played. Two boxes will be provided with marked balls: one for potato chip types (local or non-local) and one for selling prices (ranging from $0.50 to $15 in increments of 50 cents). If the participant's stated maximum willingness to pay for the drawn potato chip type is greater than or equal to the drawn selling price, the participant will buy the potato chips at the selling price. Otherwise, no transaction will occur.
Two types of potato chips, without visible branding and labeled as "local potato chips" and "non-local potato chips", will be used to prevent brand preference from influencing decisions. Potato chips sold during the purchasing game will be provided in non-transparent bags to further prevent brand identification. All potato chips will be of the same flavor and approximately the same size and will be purchased from supermarkets.
The main goal of this study is to investigate whether the willingness to pay for local and non-local potato chips among supermarket shoppers varies based on different urban-rural landscapes, and whether different definitions of local affect these shoppers' willingness to pay for local potato chips. In addition to comparing the willingness to pay across the two treatment groups and examining variations between urban and rural landscapes, we also ask participants' personal definitions of local food through specific survey questions. This will allow us to explore whether these definitions vary across different landscapes. Through our research, we aim to deepen our understanding of consumer behavior and identify the factors that influence their willingness to pay for local products.