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A Comparative Study of Consumer Behaviour

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Published: Thu, 22 Feb 2018

ABSTRACT:

Consumer Behavior is an aspect that is given a lot of importance in the globe of marketing. A lot of products have been a sensation or a breakdown due to inappropriate analysis of consumer behaviour and motivation. Food is a basic requirement for all livelihoods and everybody who earns spends money on food without any second thought. To live we need to eat and therefore food is tremendously important in all our lives. Today’s consumers are becoming increasingly displeased with GM (Genetically Modified) and conventional fruits and vegetables and therefore are stirring towards organic fruits and vegetables. Many consumers are going organic not only in the case of fruits and vegetables but also regarding skincare, beauty products, paper and also clothing! Organic fruits and vegetables are not only said to be healthier due to ethical ways of production which do not use man-made chemicals and unnecessary preservatives as opposed to conventional food. It is also said to be eco-friendly because of environment cognizant methods which are used for the production of organic food. The advantages of organic fruits and vegetables are more whereas the disadvantages (such as price premium) are negligible when compared to its better side. Regular buyers of organic fruits and vegetables are willing to overlook these minor disadvantages which are negligible when compared to its disadvantages. In this research work, the consumer behaviour in the United Kingdom regarding organic fruits and vegetables 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 fruits and vegetables in UK and India are also studied with relevance to consumer behaviour.

INTRODUCTION:

Background

This research work revolves around the consumer behaviour and attitudes towards organic fruits and vegetables in the United Kingdom and in India. A brief introduction will be given on consumer behavior and how important it is in the field of marketing. Secondly, a deeper understanding of the term organic will be given. Many theories and aspects related to organic fruits and vegetables will be discussed and reviewed as well in this dissertation. A number of consumers of organic and conventional food are consulted to get their views and opinions about organic fruits and vegetables. Not everyone’s attitudes towards organic fruits and vegetables seem to be the same, therefore the application of certain statistics methods help us in further understanding the relation and patterns in the consumer behavior patterns and trends in organic fruits and vegetables in the two countries. This study helps understand how the consumers in UK and in India differ from each other and also help understand the ways they are similar in. On the whole, the differences and similarities between the consumers of organic fruits and vegetables in the two countries are studied. To get this information, many respondents were asked to answer questionnaires regarding this topic and these answers were analysed using statistics. In the end these are discussed and limitations and conclusions are given and suggested.

Research Questions:

  • How does the consumer behavior towards organic fruits and vegetables 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 fruits and vegetables?
  • When will India accept organic fruits and vegetables widely, the way UK has?
  • What makes organic fruits and vegetables to be preferred more than convenience fruits and vegetables?
  • Why is there a variance between the preference rate and sales of organic fruits and vegetables in both India and UK?
  • What are the factors owing to this?

General Aim

The aim of this study is to find the consumer behavior and attitudes towards consumption of organic fruits and vegetables in the UK and India. The elements and factors (health factors, eco-friendliness, ethics, taste, quality, safety standards etc) influencing the consumer’s decision making are also studied.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY:

Introduction

This section talks 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.

Purpose of this Research

The obvious purpose of this research is to study the consumer behavior towards organic fruits and vegetables 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 fruits and vegetables in the two countries will be studied. The attitudes of customers towards organic fruits and vegetables will be studied and explored. It is important to identify the determinants of the success and failure of organic fruits and vegetables industry in India and the United Kingdom. The consumers of organic fruits and vegetables in India and the United Kingdom might differ a lot in their way of behavior 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 behavior towards organic fruits and vegetables in the two countries by conducting a comparative study of the consumer behaviors from the two countries.

Research Questions

  • How do the attitudes of Indian consumers differ from that of the British with respect to organic fruits and vegetables?

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 the two country’s consumer behaviour but the study might also prove the similarities in the two country’s consumer behaviour patterns towards organic fruits and vegetables.

Instrument

This research work is conducted on a survey of consumers and non-consumers of organic fruits and vegetables in India and in the United Kingdom. The study (survey) questionnaire was distributed to customers of local supermarkets which sell both organic and conventional fruits and vegetables 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 fruits and vegetables 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.

Population

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 fruits and vegetables).

Sample

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 (i.e 200 from India on the whole), and 100 from Birmingham and 100 from London (i.e 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 empirical findings and data analysis.

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.

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 who are taken and considered as representatives of the entire population (consumers of organic fruits and vegetables 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 were 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.

Questionnaire Design

The questionnaire consisted of 15 questions which had multiple choice 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 behavior and attitudes towards organic fruits and vegetables 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 fruits and vegetables and their opinions towards it.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

A theoretical framework basically lays down the guidelines for the research work. The concepts, theories, cases, models etc used for the presentation of the research are basically explained for understanding the study being carried out. In this dissertation, a few theories and models will be reviewed and discussed.

Consumer Behaviour

Consumer behaviour is a very widely studied subject in the field of marketing. Without consumers, it is very difficult for businesses of any sort to function normally. Consumers are the raison-d-etre’ for a business’ mere existence. The business may be based on profit or it might also be 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.”

“Consumer behaviour mainly sheds light on how consumers decide to spend their various resources like time, money etc on various products so as to meet their needs and requirements. Consumer behaviour encompasses study of what, when, why and where the consumers will buy their products. It also focuses on how often the consumers use the products. Furthermore, it also sheds light on how the consumers evaluate the products after the purchase and the effect of evaluations on their future purchases.”

From the marketing point of view, it is very important to understand the consumer well and to attend 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 run. In the case of organic fruits and vegetables, a consumer might decide to buy it for its benefits on health or the environment or maybe because of the advertising for it is good. There are various factors that affect the consumer decision making process which is also discussed further.

Models of Consumer Choice:

The Cognitive model:

When consumers make an important purchase for the first time, they may reflect on alternatives and discuss pros and cons with others with the intention of securing benefits and avoiding costs. This model is sometimes called the extended-problem solving model. (East, Wright and Vanhuele, 2008)

The Reinforcement Model:

Choice is controlled by factors in the environment that reward and facilitate some alternatives more than others. Managerial control is achieved by changing the consumer’s situation. However, what is rewarding to some persons may not be so to others and this limits influence. (East, Wright and Vanhuele , 2008)

The habit model:

Choice is controlled by managing stimuli (brand name, logo, pack features, etc) that have become associated with a product as a result of past purchases. Sometimes this is called stimulus control. (East, Wright and Vanhuele, 2008)

Consumer Behaviour models:

The purpose of consumer behaviour models is to provide description, explanation and prediction of purchase behaviour. At the same time the models provide a conceptual framework and so help researchers to set up and test new ideas so as to give even better explanations and predictions of behaviour. On the positive side, these models do help to organize research results and to demonstrate the complexity of decision processes involved in even a simple purchase, such as a can of soup in the local supermarket. On the negative 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 effect on purchase behaviour. They are – political, economic and technical; cultural and social; psychological; and marketing influences. (Bareham, 1995)

Theories make it easier to understand a concept as they outline causes and effects that are possible and what to anticipate provided the input (the happening circumstance) is given. In most cases, it is easy to analyze whether practical situations are normal and acceptable with the help of proven time tested theories.

Marketing segmentation

The market is divided into different groups or 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 needs and purposes. Some of the marketing segmentation is as follows:

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, can be important to the marketing strategy.

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:

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 adults and so on.

Sex:

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.

Socio-economic status:

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.

Psychological segmentation:

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.

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 fuits and vegetables, 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 fruits and vegetables, 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 fruits and vegetables are more expensive than conventional fruits and vegetables. 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 fruits and vegetables everyday. In India, no meal is complete without fruits or vegetables and in the United Kingdom, people are encouraged to consume fruits and vegetables 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 fruits and vegetables and therefore they are the target segments.

Decision making process

There exist a number of factors which affect the consumer decision making process. Each of the factors has many sub-factors.

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 fruits and vegetables, 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 fruits and vegetables in future.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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:

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.

Heuristics:

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.

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 and so on. Some are taken with our conscious effort and some with our sub-conscious mind. When it comes to purchasing organic fruits and vegetables, 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 fruits and vegetables or otherwise.

Attitudes:

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 conative (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 conative 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 conative 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-thumbfor practical purposes. It is certainly


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