Consumer Preference Model
The model is based on general economic theory of consumer preferences, which takes into account the following main elements: (1) the income available to the consumer; (2) the price of goods on the market; (3) the tastes and preferences of consumers; and (4) behavioral approximation of utility maximization. According to the model, the consumer chooses products from those available on the market in such a way as to maximize the subjective expected utility within the limits imposed by their income and their tastes or preferences (Jackson 2005; Gorton and Barjolle, 2013).
Some limitations of the model applied in the choice of foods can be observed critically, too. The “rationality” of consumer choice built into the model can be achieved only if there is a specific set of information—that is, the “rational” choice is only possible in the context of “perfect” market information. Studies on consumer choice of organic over conventional foods highlight the role of information (Gracia and de Magistris, 2008). The assumption that individual preferences or tastes that are at the basis of consumer choice are taken as exogenous factors to the model may be seen as a limitation. These preferences can be “revealed” by studying the actual decisions that rational consumers make on the food market (Cicia et al., 2002). Another limitation of the model based on the economic theory that the basic desires and needs of consumers are considered potentially endless also leads to debatable results in its application in the food sector. Some authors seek a compromise between simplicity and realism in choosing alternatives of a food brand (e.g., coffee, cheese, etc.) (Hanemann, 1984; Baltas and Doyle, 2001; Gorton and Barjolle, 2013).
The Attribute Model
The attribute model of consumer preference is also known as Lancaster model, named after its creator K. Lancaster (Lancaster, 1966; Lancaster, 1991). Viewed as a variation of the model of consumer preference, it specifies that consumer preferences for goods are formed on the basis of attributes that products possess and values that those attributes have for individual consumers. This model is widely used in studying consumer preferences for attributes of foods. The Lancaster model is applied both to global food markets and in comparison between organic and conventional foods (Philippidis and Hubbard, 2003; Bonti-Ankomah and Yiridoe, 2006).