Title page for ETD etd-10222010-103809

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Bharad, Abhishek Bhagwat
Author's Email Address abhara2@tigers.lsu.edu
URN etd-10222010-103809
Title Analysis of Media Agenda-Setting Effect on Consumer Confidence in the Safety of the U.S. Food System across Consumer Segments
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Harrison, R Wes Committee Chair
Hinson, Roger Committee Member
Kennedy, P Lynn Committee Member
  • Consumer Confidence
  • Food Defense
  • Food Safety
  • Media Agenda-Setting
Date of Defense 2010-06-30
Availability unrestricted
Recent food recalls and food scares in the United States have increased consumersí risk perceptions about food borne illness and decreased their confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply. Results from a continuous tracking of consumer confidence and media coverage of food safety events over a 67 week period between May 2008 and August 2009 are reported in the study. Factor analysis is performed on consumer characteristic statements to identify seven factors. Factor scores for these seven factors are used as inputs in a consumer segmentation procedure.

A two step segmentation approach, hierarchical cluster analysis followed by partition cluster analysis is used to create eight consumer segments. An ordered probit model is used to test the hypothesis that media coverage of food safety events affects consumer confidence in the safety of the U.S. food system. The results show that media coverage significantly and negatively affects consumer confidence in the safety of nationís food supply during the sample period. The results also indicate that the effect of media coverage is different for each consumer segment identified in the study. Socioeconomic and demographic factors such as geographic region, media source, household size, age, ethnicity, education, and gender also had significant affects on consumer confidence in the safety of United States food supply. Another finding of study is that media effect varies depending on the media source used by respondents. Television has a negative effect on consumer confidence in the safety of the U.S. food system, while internet and newspapers have a positive effect on consumer confidence in the safety of the U.S. food system relative to the television.

The findings of this study are important and helpful for government agencies and private companies to understand the magnitude of consumer response to mass media, and for adjusting their response to food safety incidents and determining the economic downturn in the sale of their products and for how long into the future. The consumer segments developed in the study can be used for integrating better risk communication strategies directed toward a specific consumer segment.

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