Consumer Behaviour in Organic Food
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A RESEARCH STUDY OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR WITH REGARD TO ORGANIC FOOD IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND INDIA
Consumer Behaviour is an aspect that is being very vital in the globe of marketing. Food is a basic requirement for all the livelihoods and consumers require maximum satisfaction on the products they choose. Now consumers are more conscious about their health and choose nutritious food though they are expensive. Today's consumers are increasingly displeased with GM (Genetically Modified) and conventional food and are therefore stirring up to organic food. Many consumers are going organic not only towards food even towards clothing, beauty products, skin care and also paper. Organic food is not only healthier due to its ethical ways of production which do not use man-made chemicals and redundant preservatives as opposed to conventional food. It is also eco-friendly due to environment cognizant methods which are used for the production of organic food. The benefits of organic food are more whereas the disadvantages (such as price premium) are negligible when compared to its betterment. Regular buyers of organic food are willing to overlook this minor disadvantage when compared to its other disadvantages which affect their health. In spite of the debates, consumers prefer organic food to conventional food because it removes the question of eating food that is unnatural or food that is not eco-friendly. In this research work the consumer behaviour towards organic food in United Kingdom is studied and compared with that in India. The factors (such as consumer expectations, beliefs, criteria, concerns, quality, awareness etc) that affect marketing of organic food in UK and India are also studied with relevance to consumer behaviour.
To successfully complete this dissertation was the most significant challenges I ever had. I would like to thank God and my parents who believed in me gave me full encouragement and support. Simon Speller, my supervisor who was very kind enough to help me out despite his academic and other commitments. I wish to express my warm and sincere thanks to him who encouraged me and guided me throughout my research study. His wisdom, immense knowledge and commitment to the high standard motivated and inspired me. He was always accessible and enthusiastic to help his students. Without his patience and directions I would have found it hard to complete my dissertation. I would like to thank specially my Module leader Yi Zhu, who encouraged me and never hesitated to help me out during my study. I immensely thank my friends and employees of the stores who were always there to lend me their hand.
This research work revolves around the consumer behaviour and attitude towards organic food in United Kingdom and in India. A concise introduction will be given on consumer behaviour and how vital it is in the field of marketing. Secondly, an intense understanding of the term organic will be known. Many theories and phases associated with organic food will be emphasized and assessed in this dissertation. A various number of consumers of organic and conventional food are approached and consulted to get their views and estimation towards organic food. Not all the consumers approach towards organic food seems to be alike; consequently the application of certain statistical method helps us in further understanding the relation and the patterns in the consumer behaviour styles and trends in organic food in the two countries. This also helps us to identify how the consumers in UK and in India differ from each other and also we could recognize the ways they are similar in. On the whole, the similarities and differences between the consumers of organic food in UK and in India are deliberated. To obtain this information many respondents were requested to answer questionnaire concerning this topic and later on these answers were analysed using statistics. In the end these are discussed and limitations and conclusions are given and suggested.
1.2 Introduction to organic food
Organic food is grown and produced using some production standards. The conventional pesticides, chemicals, fertilizers used for the production of conventional food are not used for organic farming. The organic farms are also free from human and industrial wastes. No artificial food additives and ionization process is used. Previously, organic food were grown only in private gardens and small farms thus making it only available in farmer markets or family run small stores. Nowadays, organic food is widely available. But there are a lot of standard and certifications that the sellers should possess to market the fruit and vegetables. There are heavy regulations in the organic fruit and vegetable industry. The organic food sales are expected to grow by a large percentage in the near future.
1.3 General Aim
The aim of the study is to find out the consumer behaviour and approach towards the consumption of organic food in UK and in India. The elements and factors (health factors, eco-friendliness, production methods, ethics, taste, quality, safety standards etc) influencing the consumer's decision making are also studied.
1.4 Research Questions
- How does the consumer behaviour towards organic food vary between India and UK?
- In what ways do consumers in the two countries expect the food to be different from convenience foods?
- What are the popular beliefs among consumers about organic food?
- When will India accept organic food widely, the way UK has?
- What makes organic food to be preferred more than convenience food?
- Why is there a variance between the preference rate and sales of organic food in both India and UK? What are the factors owing to this?
- How do the attitudes of Indian consumers differ from that of the British with respect to organic food?
The above given question is the main aim and the biggest question for this study and research work. There are of course many sub questions as well which will also be researched in the course of this study. The question speaks about finding out the attitude differences in both the country's consumer behaviour but the study might also prove the similarities in both the country's consumer behaviour patterns towards organic food.
2. LITERATURE REVIEW
In the literature review, the studies of previous research work by other researchers are conducted. This helps us to recognize what other research works have arrived at with relevance to consumer behaviour and organic food. It is of big help because it has allowed the perception of consumer behaviour in regard with organic food especially in the United Kingdom and India because research work is proposed to be more specific rather than being more generalized. Theories and patterns are analyzed from previous research work which helps us to comprehend the topic better.
It's a framework which basically positions down the strategy for the research work. The concepts, theories, cases, models etc used for the presentation of the research are basically elucidated for understanding the study being carried out. In this dissertation, a few theories and models will be analyzed and discussed.
2.2 The effect of organic food on the environment
The production of organic food is not harmful to the soil, water, air or even the flora and fauna in the sense that they do not release any toxins or harmful substances into the environment or the ecology as a whole. The energy consumed for organic farming is much lesser than the level of energy needed for conventional farming methods thereby helping energy conservation process. The usage of pesticides for farming of conventional food contains a great percentage of harmful toxic chemicals which have a negative impact on the health of the farmers, those living in the locality of the farms and the people who consume them. The aquatic animals in the water bodies near the farms and the birds which feed on the produce of these farms suffer various genetic problems and disorders which are mostly fatal.
2.3 Level of nutrients
The content of nutrients in organic food are around 40% to 60% greater than that of the contents in conventional food. The level of antioxidants in organic food is up to 40% greater than in conventional food. These anti-oxidants are necessary for the normal well being of a person and helps in reducing the risks of various diseases and disorders. A large number of organic food consumers say it is much sweeter, tastier, better textures and firm than conventional food.
Organic food are anywhere between 5% and 40% more expensive than conventional food. This is due to the use of the standards and processes applied for its farming. It is more labour intensive because it is more difficult to farm organic food because they are prone to getting rotten easily if the standards and physical conditions are not met with. It uses more natural farming methods and is more often produced on a small scale level. Most countries import organic food and therefore it is more expensive than similar fruits which are produced conventionally.
2.5 Organic certificate:
Most consumers of organic food think it is healthier for them. But to be sure what is being consumed is organic; one has to look for the certificate of organic food. To be certified as organic, a minimum of 95% of it must be organic. The rest 5% has stringent rules and standards. Synthetic chemicals or other processing standards are not acceptable. The food from a particular farm can be certified organic only if the farmer of that particular farm has been producing organic food for a minimum of 3 years.
2.6 Pleasure of going organic:
Whether it is a psychological factor or not, it is not clear yet, but majority of organic food consumers on the whole feel it is tastier than conventional food. They also have the content feeling because they feel they are doing the environment better by opting to go organic. In today's mechanical times, most people are busy and hardly have time to prepare a proper meal with all the ‘good', healthy contents that are necessary for a healthy, balanced diet thereby opting for food that is convenient to get and make in most ways. Many old timers find the taste of food constantly decreasing. For instance, watermelons used to taste as sweet as sugar in India about 30 years ago, but now sugar needs to be added to make it sweet enough to drink its juice or make a fruit salad out of it. A survey conducted by the Soil Association in 2005 included a representative sample of 1000 people who were questioned about what they considered important while buying organic food. 95% said it was the taste and quality that mattered, 57% said price was considered while making a purchase. (Simon Wright, 2008)
2.7 Ethical factors and responsibility affecting choice:
An average shopper for food in the supermarket is faced with so many dilemmas and attractive offers and discounts such as super savers etc. Many shoppers also succumb to these attractive offers on convenience food, but there are also a considerable percentage of shoppers who overcome these dilemmas and go in for organic food. Some of the shoppers are so loyal and inclined towards organic food that the thought of buying convenience foods never even crosses their minds. Most of them are considered about whether the farmers are given fair treatment and paid what they deserve (fair trade) and also concerned about the ecological friendly measures taken up while farming of these food which are better for the environment as well.
Most of the non shoppers of organic food who prefer the convenience farmed foods do so mainly because of the price factor; some of the shoppers of organic food too think so. More shoppers prefer buying their organic food from the local farmer markets and small time local suppliers rather than the super markets because they feel the ‘stuff' there is fresher and also the farmers will be getting a better deal off it. Those who prefer buying it from the supermarkets do so mainly because of accessibility constraints.
2.8 History of organic food in India:
The concept of organic food is not new to India. At the beginning of the 19th century, Sir Albert Howard, one of the most important pioneers of organic farming, worked in India for many years studying soil plant interactions and developing composting methods. In doing so he capitalized on India's highly sophisticated traditional agricultural systems which had long applied many of the principles of organic farming (for instance mixed cropping, crop rotation with legumes and botanical pesticides and so on)
Through the introduction of the Green revolution, agricultural technology in the 1960s reached the main production areas of the country, there were still certain areas (especially the mountainous regions), and communities( especially certain tribes) that did not adopt the use of agro chemicals. Therefore, some areas can be classified as organic by default, though their significance and extent has been over emphasized in recent statements made by the government officials and NGO representatives. However, an increasing number of farmers have started consciously abandoning the use of agro chemicals and now produce organically.
In the olden times in India, organic food farming was the main source of income for most of the people inhabiting the rural areas of India and it was also the major exporter to the world. In the 1960s, due to famines, droughts and extreme food shortage, the Indian Government started the idea of Green Revolution which made the farmers switch over to harsh chemicals for fertilizers, pesticides etc to multiply and increase the food production by a great level. This led to the sidelining of the usual organic farming methods of using natural fertilizers and pesticides which was obtained from plants and animals. Slowly in course of time, the Green revolution started decreasing the soil fertility, and the crops started getting immune to the harsh chemical fertilizers and this also started affecting nature as a whole and the environment as such. Therefore, a large number of farmers are moving back to the organic ways of farming and thus helping the surroundings as well apart from the consumers. Genetically modified foods which were acceptable during the Green revolution period are now totally detested by most people and has a lot of negative aspects. Most of the big supermarkets in India have a separate section allotted for organic foods which are gaining a lot of demand and attention by the domestic market. (http://www.agricultureinformation.com/forums/organic-farming/15397-organic-farming-exports-food-consumption-india.html)
According to a small recent survey taken in Mumbai, India, awareness about the presence of organic food is quite low. 25% of the respondents were aware of the availability of organic food and 36% out of them actually used them. The main reason for the use of organic food attributed towards the benefits it had on the consumer's health. When compared to consumers of organic food in the United Kingdom, the Indian consumers did not mention the benefits it had regarding the environmental factors. It generally had a minor relevance to the Indian consumers of organic food. Most of the organic consumers had a purchase frequency of buying the food on an average of once a month. The purchase rate of organic food to conventional food was a ratio of 1:10 respectively. Most people in India do not consume organic food and organic food in general due to the fact that they are not aware that such a thing exists at all. When posed with the question if they would buy organic food because it was healthier for them, all the non consumers and non buyers of organic food answered they would buy it solely because of the reason that it was better for their health.
The domestic market for organic food is nowhere near as great as the export market for it. Indian domestic consumption of organic food is only a meager 7.5% of the entire organic fruit and vegetable production, the rest of which is directed towards the export market which is very great as Indian organic farming techniques are one among the best in the world and the resources are natural and pure in India. Most of the domestic consumption of organic food in India is seen in the big urban cities such as Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkota, Delhi, Hyderabad to name a few. These cities are noted to be inhabited by the upper income groups of the country, thereby showing that the upper income groups are obviously the predominant consumers of organic food in India.
2.9 Growth in the domestic market in India for organic food:
There has been a considerable increase in the growth of demand and consumption of organic food in India. Many NGOs are aiding and assisting farmers to do better in their area of organic fruit and vegetable faming. Increase in demand by the local market in India for organic food are mainly because of health conscious factors, being aware about the product and its benefits, appealing marketing strategies and the ease of availability. These are the main factors considered according to some NGOs in India.
It is a myth that most of the organic produce is exported to foreign countries. Today market for organic food in India is on the rise. More than 50% of the produce is consumed by the domestic market. The rest is aimed for the export market. Most of the domestic market consumers in India prefer organic food especially in families with growing children due to the beneficial factors in them.
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Organic Agri Business
Organic farming, exports & Food Consumption in India
2.10 Committed Organic Consumers
HDRA participating members completed a questionnaire on background information about the participant and their household. They answered precise questions about their behaviour as organic consumers - focusing on organic vegetables. Questions included weekly spend on vegetables, percentage of organic vegetables bought, factors to encourage purchasing and where and how regularly they bought organic vegetables. This information was analysed and combined with a brief literature review of research into committed organic consumers in the wider UK population.
Committed buyers tended to be older and more affluent than the UK population average, over two thirds were in social classes A, B or C1, compared to fewer than 50 per cent in the population at large and most lived in London and the South East (TNS, 2003; Padel and Foster, 2005). The majority of committed organic consumers spend was from the two groups of empty nesters whose children have left home and families with children under 5 years (TNS, 2003). TNS (2003) found fruit and vegetables were the main entry point to organic purchasing as 55 per cent tried them before any other category. Padel and Foster, (2005) identified that committed organic consumers took on a greater number of issues and motives, which varied depending on the product category. The two most important motivations were taste and health. TNS (2003) reported there was a “direct correlation between the extent to which consumers believe in the health and taste benefits of organic food and the number of categories they buy into”. Padel and Foster (2005) found personal health was a particularly strong driver among UK consumers and related it to an absence of residues and food safety although Zanoli (2004) identifies that across Europe health seemed to be the central motive for buying organic produce. Environment and animal welfare were growing in importance as drivers (Padel and Foster, 2005). Food origin was particularly important as 60 per cent of organic consumers were more likely to buy organic food if it originated from the UK compared to 38 per cent for whom it didn't really matter (TNS, 2003). Price was often found as a barrier to purchasing although committed buyers had a higher willingness to pay (TNS, 2003). This is common across Europe (Zanoli, 2004). Organic consumers bought organic food an average of 12.8 times a year and average spend per shopping trip was £2.53 (TNS, 2003). Committed buyers spend more on average and buy more frequently than less committed buyers. The majority bought organic produce in Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose.
It is usually seen that most people who are regular buyers of organic food are either families with young children or old people. This in a way shows that organic food are preferred by those who want to maintain their health and stay fit. As for the more affluent people being regular buyers of organic food, the price premium for it justifies this behaviour.
2.11 Consumer Behaviour:
Consumer Behaviour is extensively studied in the field of marketing. Without consumers it is rigid for any sort of trade to run efficiently. Consumers are the raison-d-etre' for a business' mere existence. A business maybe a profit organization or even a non-profit organization. “The field of consumer behaviour is the study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, use and dispose of products, services, experiences or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society”( Belch and Belch, 2007)).
From the marketing point of view, it is a significant factor to understand the consumer skillfully and to aid to their needs, wants and demands to be successful. A consumer is the centre of attention in case of most marketing techniques; after all, it is the consumers a business needs to move forward. In the case of organic food, a consumer might decide to buy it for its benefits on health or the environment or maybe because of the advertising for it is attractive. There are diverse factors that affect the consumer decision making process which is also discussed further.
2.12 Models of Consumer Choice:
2.12.1 The Cognitive Model:
Initially when consumers make a significant purchase, they may reflect on substitutes and discuss pros and cons with others with an intention of securing benefits and avoiding costs. This model is sometimes called the extended-problem solving model. (East, Wright and Vanhuele, 2008).
2.12.2 The Reinforcement Model:
Choice is controlled by the factors in the environment that reward and aid some alternatives more than others. Managerial control is attained by altering the consumer's circumstances. Nevertheless what is pleasing to one person may not seem so to others and this limits persuasion. (East, Wright and Vanhuele, 2008).
2.12.3 The Habit Model:
The choice of consumers towards the product is sometimes controlled by managing stimuli (brand name, logo, pack features, colour attraction, etc) that have become allied with a product as a result of past purchases. Sometimes this is called stimulus control. (East, Wright and Vanhuele , 2008).
2.12.4 Consumer Behaviour Models:
The objective of consumer behaviour models is to provide description, explanation and prediction of purchase behaviour. On the identical side the models provide a conceptual framework and so help researchers to locate and to examine new ideas so as to enhance better enlightenment and predictions of behaviour. On the constructive side these models aid to organize research results and to demonstrate the density of decision processes involved in even a simple purchase, such as a can of soup in the local supermarket. On the unconstructive side most of the models can be criticized as providing no more than a description of a range of influencing variables. There are four main clusters of factors that have an outcome on purchase behaviour. They are - political, economic and technical; cultural and social; psychological; and marketing influences. (Bareham, 1995)
Theories make it smoother to comprehend a concept as they sketch the causes and effects that are possible and what to anticipate provided the input (the happening circumstance) is given. In most circumstances, it is easy to analyze whether practical situations are normal and satisfactory with the help of proven time tested theories.
2.13. Marketing Segmentation:
The market is divided into diverse segments based on their needs, tastes, income, and a lot of other criteria. Marketing segmentation is based on a lot of research and important factors to suit the requirements and purposes. Some of the marketing segmentation is as follows:
2.13.1. Geographic Segmentation:
This involves segmenting the market by location on the assumption that people living in one location will have similar needs, wants and preferences and these will differ significantly from people living in other locations. There are some obvious limits to this assumption. People all over the world drink Coca-cola and buy Japanese electronic goods for instance. When you think about it from the viewpoint of the consumer, most buying behaviour is actually local. Localized consumer behaviour is often expressed through the presence of a significantly large cultural or sub cultural group that is different from the main stream. There are also geographically based differences between consumers for reasons that are more complex or obscure. It is not immediately obvious why some sections of consumers have different behaviour than the other sections. But knowing that, they will do it can be important to the marketing strategy.
2.13.2. Demographic segmentation:
Demographic segmentation deals with the many ways if statistically categorizing all the people in a national population. For example, a national population can be divided into subgroups based on age, sex, income, education, occupation, social class, family size, race and religion. In a sense, there are also different ways of looking at the same individual consumer, because of course we belong to each of these groups. Different aspects of our identity will be relevant to different products at different times. Baby foods can only be marketed to parents of young children, for example and a middle-class, middle aged, middle income, middle manager is more likely to be in the market for an exercise bike than a motor bike. Some of the important specifics of demographic segmentation are
Age is perhaps the most frequently used demographic variable in marketing segmentation. One reason for this is that the lifecycle has been divided up by society into what seem to be easily recognizable groups that are clearly differentiated from one another- infants, children, teenagers, young adult's food.
Dividing the market into male and female segments is another frequently used strategy. But even here, the old marketing certainties are breaking down. It used to be a safe bet for marketers to target do-it-yourself products exclusively at men and supermarket shopping at women. But with the larger increase in single occupant hose-holds and one parent families (most of them female), many more women are buying things that men would do if they were in a family. In addition, more women than men buy for other consumers.
A person's socio economic status is determined by education, income and occupation. Though there are many exceptions of course, these are three factors often in alignment. More highly educated people tend to do managerial and professional jobs that bring a relatively high income, and vice-versa. For obvious reasons most marketers are more interested in people with high socio economic status rather than low. Income is often considered the most important variable in this case because it is so easy to quantify and because it dictates entry to certain markets. But income by itself can be very misleading.
The attempt to come up with a practical form of consumer profile has concentrated on three areas of behaviour: activities, interests, and opinions.
Segmentation by usage:
This form of segmentation is based on information about volume and frequency of purchase for a given product. It is a popular way of segmentation of markets because there is a lot of readily available information about patterns of usage for most goods and services. In fact, with so many transactions now electronically recorded, a great deal more of data is available than is actually used. Perhaps the most familiar usage data is provided by the electronic point of sale (EPOS) used by supermarket checkouts. Not only are all the purchased items listed, together with their prices, but so is the date and exact time of purchase and the method of payment used.
Segmentation by benefit:
This form of market segmentation is based on knowledge of the benefits that consumers seek from that particular product. The task of the marketer is to include the appropriate characteristics- or the impression of them - in the design of particular goods or services. In a sense this kind of segmentation is at the entire marketing concept - find out what people want and provide it for them. (David a Statt)
Segmentation is very important for a firm or an industry to market its products strategically and for it to be a success. In the case of organic food, it comes under the category of food which is a basic necessity and therefore would appeal to and include a lot many segments in the markets. In this research study we are considering only the United Kingdom and India. So geographically these two countries are covered. Demographically the middle aged and the older people will be targeted age wise, both sexes, and the middle class and upper class levels will be targeted according to the socio economic status segmentation. Since the middle aged and older people usually are the ones who go shopping for food, they are targeted age wise, both men and women shop for it, and when it comes to socio economic status, the middle and the upper income groups are targeted as organic food are more expensive than conventional food. Many shoppers especially in India will give up the idea of buying food when it comes to the price factor that is not acceptable for them. That is the reason why the middle and upper income groups are aimed at here. Most people both in India and United Kingdom consume food every day. In India, no meal is complete without fruits or vegetables and in the United Kingdom, people are encouraged to consume food everyday with the healthy 5 a day concept though it is already a staple portion of a healthy meal. These segments are most suitable for being aimed at for marketing of organic food and therefore they are the target segments.
2.14. Decision making process
Decision makingcan be regarded as an outcome of mental processes leading to the selection of a course of action among several alternatives. Every decision making process produces a finalchoice.The output can be an action or an opinion of choice. There are many factors which are discussed below:
2.14.1 Communication Situation
The situation in which the consumer receives information about a product or service influences the buying decision of the consumer. For example, in the case of organic food, an advertisement speaking about the bad impacts of the chemicals used in conventional foods right when the buyer is suffering from food poisoning might influence the consumer to buy food that is healthier and does not involve the usage of chemicals responsible for food poisoning and therefore influence the consumer to go in for purchase of organic food in future.
2.14.2. Purchase Situation:
The situation involved while a consumer is out to purchase will influence the buying process of the consumer. For example, a very health conscious friend is out with a consumer shopping for food, the friend's suggestions of low cholesterol, high fiber food items will influence the consumer to buy healthier food products. Situations like when the consumer is very hungry and shopping for food might make the consumer end up purchasing food items that the consumer might have a craving for right then.
2.14.3. Usage Situation:
Marketers need to understand the usage situations for which the products are meant. Using this knowledge, marketers can communicate how their products create consumer satisfaction in each relevant usage situation. For example, a recent study found that consuming 1.5 cup servings of oat based cereal a day could lower cholesterol. To increase sales, a Cheerios ad depicted the advantages of it.
2.14.4. Disposition Situation
Some consumers consider the case of disposition an important attribute towards the buying decision process. For example, if there was a rule stating that all the particular products from a household should only be disposed off at a particular point for a locality which is open only for a fixed time in the weekends, or they would be fined heavily, there would be a large decrease in the sales of that product.
2.14.5 Situational Characteristics
Physical surroundings such as décor, sounds, aromas, lighting, weather and configurations of merchandise or other materials surrounding the stimulus object influences the buyer. Also, social surroundings, temporal perspectives, task definition. And antecedent states influence the buyer decision making process. The marketer should influence these factors as largely as possible to influence the buyer in a favorable way to appeal to the customers.
2.15. How decisions are made by people:
The obvious point about decisions worth spelling out is that we are constantly making them. Form the moment we get up in the morning we are faced with deciding what to wear and what to have for breakfast and we make decisions throughout the rest of the day. Indeed we normally make so many decisions in the course of the day; every day, that only rarely do we realize that in fact we are making a decision. Decisions are just part of the business of living our lives, and are taken for granted.
Rationality is what you and I would like to think, we use when making a decision. Moreover, we like to believe we are rational in both the psychological and the economic senses of the world. Psychologically, we make objective, dispassionate choices that are not influenced by prejudice or other irrational influences. Economically, we find out all the information there is on each of the alternatives, assess the advantages and disadvantages of each, and then choose the best one on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis. Most decisions are made in a state of incomplete information.
A heuristic is simply a procedure or method or strategy for solving a problem or making a decision. It is similar to an algorithm, a procedure widely used in science, except that and algorithm is guaranteed to find the solution, or the best solution, whereas a heuristic is not. Perhaps, then it would be better for us to think of a heuristic as a rule-of-thumb. That is, a heuristic may be a good place to start if faced with a decision and it may provide a reasonable guide in the search for a solution, but no more than that. A heuristic may therefore be helpful, but it might also lead us totally astray. The reason we need heuristics when making decisions is simply that the world we live in turns us into misers- cognitive misers. Three forms of heuristic that psychologists have identified in the way people make decision: the representative heuristic, the attitude heuristic and the availability heuristic. (David A Statt)
Every step taken by anyone would require a decision to be made be it whether to put your right foot forward or your left, to eat spinach or a burger food. Some are taken with our conscious effort and some with our sub-conscious mind. When it comes to purchasing organic food, a number of decisions need to be taken. For that matter the purchase making decision of any product is made based on several factors. For example, in the case of buying organic food, a consumer might think if he really needs to shell out 10% extra for a kg of organic onions or whether he is really doing himself any good by consuming organic potatoes. Questions such as these are answered in a heuristic pattern which leads to the purchase of organic food or otherwise.
The study of attitudes is one of the most intensively researched areas of psychology. Although there are over 100 different definitions of the term, a widely accepted definition of attitude would be: “A stable, long lasting, learned predisposition to respond to certain things in a certain way. The concept has a cognitive (belief) aspect, an affective (feeling) aspect, and a co native (action) aspect.”
Characteristics and components of attitudes:
Like a proprietary pain killer, attitudes contain not one, not two, but three active ingredients which are the cognitive component, the affective component, and the co native component. The cognitive component is mainly concerned with a consumer's opinions about the product's properties, for example whether it is crunchy, chewy, whether the price is reasonable, or whether the packaging is informative. The affective component deals with the consumer's feelings about the product's properties, for example if it is appealing or if it is un-appealing, is it liked or disliked? The co native component relates to the consumer's likely behaviour in relation to the product.
Sources of attitudes: The three main sources of attitudes are family, peers, and direct experience.
Attitudes and behaviour:
The commonsense notion that knowing someone's attitudes towards a product will inform you of the likelihood of their buying it is quite a useful rule-of-thumb for practical purposes. It is certainly a useful starting point in our attempt to understand the relationship between attitudes and behaviour. There is, after all, good evidence for the links between consumers' positive attitudes towards particular brands and their decision to buy them. If attitudes and attitude changes do not always predict behaviour it has been found, conversely, that behaviour can sometimes predict attitudes and attitude change.
Leon Festinger's theory:
In 1957, Leon Festinger proposed a simple but far-reaching theory. Noting the powerful drive towards consistency, or consonance, Festinger suggested that if an individual holds two psychologically inconsistent cognitions (beliefs, attitudes, values, ideas) at the same time, he or she will be in a state of cognitive dissonance. Because cognitive dissonance is a state of psychological tension it is inherently unpleasant, Festinger argued, and we are strongly motivated to reduce it. It is important to note here that dissonance theory does not deal with logical inconsistency but psychological inconsistency. In other words people are not so much concerned with actually being consistent s feeling consistent; not so much with being rational as with rational as with rationalizing. There are a couple of points of particular interest to us here. One is that these findings run contrary to commonsense, which would presumably argue that if you want people to adopt a certain attitude, the more you pay them the more likely they are to do so. The second point again concerns the relationship between attitudes and behaviour. We have already seen that a person holding certain attitudes doesn't necessarily act on them; there are many other factors involved. Similarly a change in behaviour will not necessarily follow from a change in attitude. However, the cognitive dissonance studies have shown that if the appropriate behaviour comes first then it's more likely that a change in attitude will follow. Behaviour is usually a lot more resistant to change than attitude, as any heavy smoker who's decided to give it up can tell you. (David A Statt)
Every consumer will have a certain opinion about a product he uses or does not use because he does not like it. In the case or organic food, the consumer's opinions' and attitude towards it are studied in this dissertation research. Some consumers might buy organic food because they are influenced by others, or they like the thought of eco friendly products, or due to the other marketing influences. Mostly consumers buy a product or invest in one because their attitude towards it is positive. A negative attitude towards the product will make them drop the idea of buying the product.
2.16. Factors mainly affecting consumer behaviour:
2.16.1. Cultural Factors:
They widely and deeply affect the consumer's perceptions towards products especially in countries like India where culture deeply influences most of a person's activities. For example in Gujarat, India a toothpaste brand called Anchor did exceedingly well because it's advertisement stressed on the word Vegetarian 100% and since more than 90% Gujarati's are staunch. Vegetarians, the brand did very well for itself in that state. Subcultures require the people to slightly differ from one another but not as much as those from different cultures on the whole.
2.16.2. Social Class
“Almost every society has some form of social class structure. Social classes are society's relatively permanent and ordered divisions whose members share similar values, interest and behaviours. The registrar general's six social classes have been widely used since the twentieth century, although all big countries have their own system. Not only do class systems differ in various parts of the world, the relative sizes of the classes vary with the relative prosperity of countries. The ‘diamond' shaped classification is typical of developed countries, although the Japanese and Scandinavian scales are flatter. In less developed countries, such as in Latin American and Africa, the structure is ‘pyramid' shaped with a concentration of poor people at the base. As countries develop their class structure moves towards the diamond shape, although there is evidence that the gap between the richest and poorest in the English speaking countries is now widening. Some class systems have a greater influence on buying behaviour than others. In most western countries ‘lower' classes may exhibit upward mobility, showing buying behaviour similar to that of the ‘upper' classes. But in other cultures, where a caste system gives poor people a distinctive role, buying behaviour is more firmly to social class, upper classes in almost all societies are often more similar to each other than they are to the rest of their own society. When selecting products and services including food, clothing, household items and personal care products, they make choices that are less cultural bound than those of the lower classes.” (Source: p259, Philip kotler)
2.16.3. Social Factor:
A consumer's behaviour is largely influenced by family, friends, neighbors, and so on different groups influence the consumer's decisions at different times. There are two kinds of groups which influence the consumer behaviour. They are the primary group that intends to consist of informal friends, family etc. The other group is the secondary group which is more formal like the work place colleagues, religious groups, work unions etc.
2.16.4. Family Group:
The immediate family group influences the buyer's behaviour to possibly the greatest level. For example, an expensive product is often discussed between the family members before the purchase is made. For products related to home maintenance such as washing, cooking etc. The lady in the house is often the chooser of the product and for more masculine products it is the man who chooses.
2.17. Psychological Factors influencing food choice:
2.17.1. Food evaluation dimensions:
Some substances are rejected or accepted primarily because of their sensory effects in the mouth; that is, because of the taste, texture, odor, and sometimes appearance. Substances which fall into the sensory-affective category for any individual are almost always acceptable food in their culture. Individual differences in this category (so on, liking or disliking spinach) probably account for most of the variation in food preferences within a culture.
Some substances are accepted or rejected as food primarily because of anticipated consequences of ingestion. These consequences can be rapid effects (such as nausea or cramps, or an unpleasant feeling of satiation) or more delayed effects involving belief and attitudes about the health value of substances (such as vitamins or low fat foods on the positive side, or potential carcinogens on the negative side). Anticipated consequences need not be psychological but they might also be social, such as expected changes in social status as a consequence of eating a food.
Some substances are rejected or accepted primarily because of our idea or knowledge of what they are or where they come from. While ideational factors predominate in many food rejections, they are less common in acceptance. We distinguish between two distinct subcategories of ideational rejection: ‘inappropriate' and ‘disgust'. Items classified as inappropriate are considered inedible within the culture and are refused simply on this basis. Items viewed as disgusting are contaminants and pollutants, which is the possibility of presence in their food even in the tiniest amounts, making the food unacceptable.
2.17.2. Individual psychological factors in food selection:
* Early experience
* Acquisition of likes and dislikes
* Distaste vs danger
* Good taste vs beneficial
* Disgust vs inappropriate
Some people might prefer organic food because they find it tastier than conventional foods and some might prefer it for the good it does to the ecology. Everyone might have their own reasons being influenced by friends, family, packaging, advertising etc. When a person knows he is going to fall ill because of consuming certain food owing to previous experiences, he will definitely try his best to avoid consuming it. Similarly, when it comes to the long term disadvantages or maybe even the short term disadvantages of consuming conventional food being aware of all the drawbacks of it, will avoid using or consuming them. Most people are not aware of all the chemicals and synthetics (fertilizers, pesticides, etc) used in the production of conventional food some of which are carcinogenic in nature and have been proven to cause various genetic disorders and diseases in people. If awareness is spread about such serious effects of it, there will be a huge shift in the consumption of conventional food towards organic food which are not known to cause any such harmful effects. Most of the consumers of organic food in India and United Kingdom are people who are aware of these effects of conventional food in general which encourages them to consume organic food.
2.17.3. Changes in total consumption of food:
As consumers become wealthier, they tend to spend a declining proportion of their incomes on food. This relationship is sometimes called as the ‘Engel's law'. When different countries are compared with one another regarding expenditure on food and proportion of income spent on food, it can be quite misleading due to the fact that different countries have different price levels and currency values and also the purchasing power of people varies from one country to the other. Therefore, it might not be a fair thing to do while comparing different countries expenditure on food related to this. In 1857, the Prussian statistician Ernst Engel published the results of a study in which he looked into the expenditure patterns of families with different levels of income. As far as expenditure on food was concerned, he found out that ‘the poorer a family is, the greater the proportion of total expenditure which it must use to procure food. The wealthier a person, the smaller is the share of expenditure on food in total expenditure.' This theory proves that the capacity of a person's food intake does not increase or decrease just because he/she earns more or less respectively. For example, a person who earns 10 units of money per month consumes 1 loaf of bread per day. That same person gets a salary raise and is now earning 50 units of money per month does not mean he will consume 5 loaves of bread per day. He can only consume how much he usually does, unless his intake is influenced by other aspects apart from income such as health factors, etc.
2.17.4 How people choose food:
The role of advertising and packaging
The determinants of food choice are obviously complex and vary from product category to product category. While the most profound and significant influences on food choice are undoubtedly cultural and traditional, the presentation of food via advertising, packaging and other promotional activities under the control of the food manufacturer play a part.
The need for a theory
Guidelines are needed on how we feel advertising or any part of persuasive communication works. Debates about the extent of the power of advertising take a number of different forms. On one hand, the manufacturer of a packaged food product complains bitterly that an expenditure of several million pounds failed to sell his brand; that advertising conspicuously did not work. On the other hand, nutritionists and politicians of various affiliations complain that advertising creates consumer needs, teaches the public to eat what is nutritionally bad for them; that advertising is a force that manipulates gullible consumers. (Christopher Ritson)
Advertising is a very effective way of boosting sales. Many brands build their name and goodwill with the help of advertisements and jingles which keep playing on people's minds. The younger generation is especially influenced a great deal by advertisements and brand ambassadors who are mostly celebrities and super models in the case of big brands. Organic fruits and vegetable advertising need to be given more importance by the marketers. By stressing on its benefits, the advertisements for organic food might help boost sales by appealing to the people.
2.17.5 Approaches to the Consumer Behaviour Research
“Consumer behaviour is a complex phenomenon and an eclectic field. The majority of published research is done by marketing academics that vary greatly in their training, objectives, and methods. There are 3 major approaches to studying consumer behaviour. The interpretive approach is relatively new in the field and has become quite influential. It is based on theories and methods from cultural anthropology. This approach seeks to develop a deep understanding of consumptions and its meanings. Studies use long interviews and focus groups to understand such things as what products and services mean to consumers and what consumer experience in purchasing and using them. Other studies might concern how advertising depicts women, how art and films reflect consumption. Meaning or how possessions influencing self images. Although these studies typically are not designed to help marketers to develop successful strategies, implications for strategy development can be inferred from them.
The traditional approach is based on theories and methods from cognitive, social and behavioural psychological as well as sociology. It seeks to develop theories and methods to explain consumer decision-making and behaviour. Studies involve experiments and surveys to test theories and develop insights into such things as consumer information processing, decision process, and social influences on consumer behaviour. This approach has had a profound impact on marketing thought, with some researchers focusing on theory and other on investigating the impact of marketing strategies on consumers. The marketing science approach is based on theories and methods from economics and statistics. It commonly involves developing and testing mathematical models to predict the impact of marketing strategies on consumer choice and behaviour. This approach has become a mainstay in the consumer recharged goods industry because it can handle large scanner data sets in an efficient number to help solving marketing problems.
All the three approaches have value and provide insights into consumer behaviour and marketing strategy in different ways and at different levels of analysis. Insights from all three are integrated in this and it is based on the traditional approach.
3. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY:
This section discusses about the methodology used for this piece of research work. Methodologies vary from research work to work due to the difference in subjects, areas and study view. What methodology is used for one research purpose may not be suitable or applicable to another. Sometimes it might not be possible for a researcher to sit and observe all that he is researching. To collect primary data for this research study, survey research approach has been used. The non probability convenience sampling method has been used for this research primary data collection method. Therefore, the method of preparing a set of questions and selecting a group of people to get to answer them and studying these answers based on an already set theory or patterns, is common and a lot many researchers today are using this form of methodology. Application of statistics to these answers helps analyze and understand the trends, patterns and fashion that the study has proved using this method. “Potter (1996, 2002) has roundly criticized researchers who use his own approach (discourse analysis) for depending too much on interview data and has argued for a greater use of naturally occurring data.” http://asksage.typepad.com/methods/. This section deals with the methodology used for this study and the course of action taken to complete the research study for the purpose of this dissertation.
3.2 Purpose of this Research
The obvious purpose of this research is to study the consumer behaviour towards organic food in India and in United Kingdom and to compare the two. While conducting the study, the marketing flaws and strengths of it, customers' attitudes towards organic food in the two countries will be studied. The attitudes of customers towards organic food will be studied and explored. It is important to identify the determinants of the success and failure of organic food industry in India and the United Kingdom. The consumers of organic food in India and the United Kingdom might differ a lot in their way of behaviour as considered in the marketing field and their attitudes towards it might not be the same or might be the same. This research will help in understanding the consumer behaviour towards organic food in the two countries by conducting a comparative study of the consumer behaviours from the two countries.
This research work is conducted on a survey of consumers and non-consumers of organic food in India and in the United Kingdom. The study (survey) questionnaire was distributed to customers of local supermarkets which sell both organic and conventional food in India (Chennai and Delhi) and in the United Kingdom (London and Birmingham). The questionnaire included a brief note about the study being conducted and a variety of questions regarding the area of research. The questionnaire included a brief note about the study being conducted and a variety of questions regarding the area of research. The questionnaires were handed out in person by the student conducting the study and her friends outside supermarkets selling organic food in India and in the United Kingdom. The questionnaire had 15 questions which took not more than 5 minutes to answer. Most respondents were happy to help out and were interested in the subject of organic food.
The questionnaires were distributed in person to organic food consumers and non-consumers. It took a period of over (18 days in India to get respondents to answer the questionnaires and 22 days in the United Kingdom to get the respondents to answer the questionnaires related to organic food).
The sample respondents from India and UK were asked to answer the questionnaire prepared by the researcher for the purpose of this research study. The questionnaire had a brief note about the research study being conducted and 15 questions with multiple option type of answers were given to the respondents who had to choose one answer for each question or as required by the question. These answers have been analysed with the application of statistical formulae and methods.
While conducting a research study, it is not possible to take into consideration the whole population. For example when studying India's consumers, it is not possible to take into consideration one billion plus consumers in India, therefore we take a selected sample to represent this entire population which is 100 from Chennai, 100 from Delhi (that is 200 from India on the whole), and 100 from Birmingham and 100 from London (that is 200 from the United Kingdom). These 400 respondents are taken as sample population and their answers are expected to correspond to all the consumers of the two countries (United Kingdom and India) respectively.
The sample population consisted of 200 respondents from India and 200 respondents from the United Kingdom. Out of the 200 respondents from India, 76 were male and 124 were female and out of the 200 respondents from the United Kingdom, 84 were male and 116 were female. The other data about age, monthly earnings, occupation etc are given under the section of Research findings and data analysis.
3.6 Data Collection
Every research study needs primary and secondary data. Secondary data is collected from already established and published information which has been studied, researched and verified by someone else. The use of such data for research purpose gives certified information provided it has been taken from reliable and referenced sources.
Secondary data is collected from already published studies, papers, theories, articles etc. This data might not be valid in today's times and circumstances due to the fact that it must have been published or verified during the time when circumstances and states were different - in simple terms, the data might be outdated. Therefore, it is important to verify if the secondary data collected is valid. It is advisable to use secondary data collected is valid. It is advisable to use secondary data for research which is well referenced and uses valid and checkable data. For this research study, books, journals, magazines and electronic databases have been used which are verifiable and authentic. Primary data was collected through the usage of questionnaire as explained under the sampling section. The primary data collected was statistically analyzed using statistical formulae and methods. The data used in this study from other studies, papers, theories, articles etc are referenced well so that the question of plagiarism does not arise. These data are used under the literature review section and they are reviewed and explained and discussed.
3.7. Sampling Methods
The non-probability convenience sample method was used for the purpose of this research study. The short-comings of time and resources are not a problem in the case of this method of sampling. Non probability sampling does not involve random sampling and therefore it might not represent the population well. But this does not have to be true in all cases though it depends upon the study area also. Convenience sampling is also referred to as haphazard sampling or accidental sampling and is named so because it is convenient for the researcher and easy to use. It might not be a good representative of the population but it is a good representative in case of a homogeneous sample population. Only a selective number of consumers are considered in this study that are taken and considered as representatives of the entire population (consumers of organic food in this case) for the study and research purpose. The probability sampling method proves to be more expensive and time consuming, which are only two of the many short comings in that case. For primary data collection, the questionnaires prepared for the purpose of this research are e-mailed to 200 people in United Kingdom and 200 in India. Another 400 were distributed in supermarkets (200 in India and 200 in UK). More number of questionnaires was sent through e-mail but due to software and document problems, they were not considered for the study. Many people who wanted to participate in this questionnaire session were unfortunately not able to do so due to time constraints. Finally 400 respondents answered the questionnaires which were used for the purpose of this research work.
3.8 Questionnaire Design
The questionnaire consisted of 15 questions which had multiple choices of answers each. Each respondent had to select one out of the given answers with respect to each question. The four answers for each question were related to the same aspect but there might not be any relation to the other question's answers. This is because a variety of questions regarding the consumer behaviour and attitudes towards organic food were considered. The first few questions were about personal details and background such as occupation, monthly earning, educational qualification etc which were followed by questions regarding organic food and their opinions towards it.
4. RESEARCH FINDINGS AND DATA ANALYSIS
4.1 Survey questionnaires and responses
The participants of this survey to study the consumer behaviour towards organic food were 200 respondents from India, of which 100 were from Chennai and 100 from Delhi. Respondents from the United Kingdom were 100 from London and 100 from Birmingham. Out of those respondents from the United Kingdom (London and Birmingham together), 84 were male and 116 were female. From India, out of the 200 respondents ( from Delhi and Chennai), 76 were male and 124 were female. Majority of the respondents were women as clearly observed from the table's statistics.
25 TO 35
36 TO 45
46 T0 55
56 TO 65
From the above given table details and statistics, it is clear that among the respondents from the United Kingdom, 30% of respondents belonged to the age group of 25 to 35, 28% belonged to the age group 36 to 45, 20 % were between 46 to 55 years old, 18% were between 56 to 65 years of age and the least 4% of respondents were older than 65 years. In India, 29% of respondents were 25 to 35 years old, 31% were 36 to 45 years old, 24% were 46 to 55 years old, 16% were 56 to 65 years old and the least was 2% who were greater than 65 years of age. From this it is evident that young people were majority of the shoppers in supermarkets and small markets and since the questionnai
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