Segmenting consumers for food defense communication strategies

Dennis Degeneffe, Jean Kinsey, Thomas F Stinson, Koel Ghosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose - In the light of lessons learned from recent disasters (The London subway bombings, and Hurricane Katrina), it has become increasingly clear that supply chain partners as well as government agencies need to be prepared to communicate effectively to consumers and customers before, during and after a disaster. Effective communication can minimize confusion and harm to company reputations, to consumers, the economy and the nation. Incorporating consistent communications into supply chain management (SCM) plans used by all parties in the supply chain will enhance competitiveness of the whole chain and speed recovery from potentially disastrous events. Findings from a national survey of consumer's attitudes about terrorism provide information about the development of targeted and effective communications. Design/methodology/approach - Based on a survey of more than 4,000 US consumers, this study used "predictive segmentation" which consists of a canonical factor analysis relating general consumer attitudes and values to their more specific fears and concerns about terrorism. A clustering of consumers then identifies six diverse consumer segments providing a framework for the development of communication strategies. Findings - Results from this study demonstrate that people can be grouped based on their general attitudes and values in such a way that their diversity can be captured in a simple framework of segments each reflecting striking differences in the level of concern over potential terrorist attacks. Practical implications - Guidance is offered for the development of communication strategies based on the information needs and media behavior of each consumer segment to mitigate the impact of a potential terrorist attack or catastrophic food safety breaches.It provides practical and logical extension of former studies that suggest incorporating consumers, attitudes into SCM and business continuity plans. Originality/value - This study leverages a common and proven marketing research approach - segmentation - used in private industry for the marketing of goods and service. It applies this method to defining segments of consumers based on their attitudes and concerns about terrorism that will be useful in supply chain communication management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-403
Number of pages39
JournalInternational Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 12 2009


  • Business continuity
  • Disasters
  • Food industry
  • Supply chain management
  • United States of America


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