Monday, June 14, 2010


What influences the buying decision of the consumers when they walk through the isles of the super market offering thousands of products with varying claims and credentials? Probably there may not be any standard answer to such a query because of the complexities and dynamics of human mind. While cost factor definitely plays a crucial role in the case of low and middle income group of families, there are many other more important issues that influence the minds of educated and well to do families. The label declaration on each food pack is supposed to guide the consumer but there is so much confusion and lack of transparency regarding label declarations that many consumers tend to disbelieve most of them, ultimately going by their past experience vis-à-vis the credibility of the brands.

"Our food environment is changing every moment. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. As it continues to evolve, we are faced each day with new decisions about what to consume. According to food researcher Brian Wansink at Cornell University, we make over 250 decisions each day about what to eat and what not to eat. No wonder it is such a challenge. New food products are released onto the market each week. Some are hits and last a long time (ex. Cornflakes, Cheerios). Some are misses and disappear almost instantaneously (Tab, Fruity Yummy Mummy Cereal). Notice what seems to be the current zeitgeist of new products--new health foods and high calorie desserts. For example, see the review by the Included in the new products this week are coconut flavored M&M. The reviewer doesn't fail to notice that coconut is actually not one of the ingredients in this product. On the other end of the spectrum, Healthy Choice: Creamy Basil Pesto frozen dinner scores points with the reviewer for having just seven grams of fat. The new products on this site give us a good idea of what we are up against as we stroll down the grocery store isles".

"Once bitten twice shy" aptly describes the dynamics of food purchase by the consumer though "human memory is short" governs the attitude of the manufacturers of new foods! Industry is "lucky" that there is no unanimity amongst food scientists, nutritionists and health professionals regarding the good or bad effect of any food or ingredients made by the industry and such a confusing situation is exploited by the industry expecting to derive "benefit of doubt" for the claims of quality and safety for their products. Nothing short of a miracle in the form of universal guidelines acceptable to all countries and enforced with determination, can reform the food processing sector in the long run and make the buying decision of the consumer less complex. Under such a situation consumer may focus more on sensory qualities of the brands they buy rather than worrying about issues like safety. .


No comments: