Imapct factor(SJIF): 6.56
Working Women’s Attitudes towards Convenience Food Products: An Empirical Investigation
Rajni Gupta#1, Raghbir Singh#2
#1Assistant Professor, Post Graduate Department of Commerce, Khalsa College, Amritsar, India, Contact no. +919876842731, E-mail address- firstname.lastname@example.org
#2Former Professor, University Business School, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India, Contact no. +919872217111, E-mail address- email@example.com
During the recent decades, women’s participation in the labour market has increased tremendously. This significant rise in employment of women outside the home has attracted the attention of consumer researchers to investigate the effect of women’s labour force participation on convenience food consumption. The objective of this research paper is to identify the factors determine the attitudes of working women towards convenience food products. For this purpose the present study has been conducted with a sample of 242 working women from three different cities of Punjab (India) and their responses were gauged through a structured questionnaire, administered personally. Data have been analyzed with help of weighted average scores, standard deviations and factor analysis. The results from the present study investigating factors influencing the attitudes of working women towards convenience food products indicate that ‘convenience’ in meal preparation is the major factor which influences the attitudes of working women towards these food products. This is followed by another five factors such as ‘sensory variables’, ‘mood’, ‘health issues’, ‘price influence’ and ‘familiarity’. The findings of the study can be useful for marketers of convenience food products as they can use these factors as an effective promotional tool to target consumers and to escalate the sale of these food items in the time to come.
Keywords: convenience food products, working women, attitudes
Rajni Gupta, Assistant Professor, Post Graduate Department of Commerce, Khalsa College, Amritsar, India, Contact no. +919876842731, E-mail address- firstname.lastname@example.org
In India, the most of the food consumption is still at home. But with the time, convenience food consumption is increasing due to increase in urbanization, breaking up of the traditional joint family system, desire for quality, shortage of time, increasing number of working women, rise in per capita income, changing lifestyles and increasing level of affluence in the middle income group had brought about changes in food habits (Costa et al, 2001; Senauer Asp and Kinsey, 2006; Karuppusamy and Arjunan, 2012). The high-speed and time-constrained lifestyle of many consumers has forced to the rise of the convenience food industry and its significant influence on society’s food consumption behaviours. Consequently, the food industry in India will face a rising demand for convenience food products (Candel, 2001; Buckley, Cowan and McCarthy 2007; Chadha, Bhatiani and Dutta, 2010). Convenience foods can be defined as a food product which is beneficial to the customer during any of the meal preparation and consumption stages: planning, purchasing, storing, preparation, eating and disposal/tidy-up. This means a product which can be easily obtained, prepared, stored, served, or eaten, thus proving to be convenient by saving time, physical energy and mental energy (Scholderer and Grunert, 2005; Ternier, 2010).
The demand for convenience food in the India has been boosted by the elevated female involvement in the labour-force (Senauer et al., 2006; Buckley et al., 2007). The term ‘mother is at home cooking food’ seems to be disappearing because these mothers have now gone out of their kitchens and homes to get their career settled (Nayga, 1996; Murdia, 2015). Since providing meals and securing family health are traditionally been the responsibility of women (Redman, 1980; Buckley et al, 2007), but their employment has reduced the time available for household work (Jabs and Devine, 2006; Buckley et al., 2007). The high work pressure felt by working women has resulted in more use of convenient food products (Buckley et al, 2007; Bava et al., 2008). During weekdays, time would be one of the constraints in preparing food; hence convenient food would be the solution to the time constrained women
The food consumption behaviour of each household not only varies by differences in the socio-economic characteristics and income structure (Kinsey, 1983; Yen, 1993), but also by the value of the homemaker’s time (Becker, 1965; Prochaska and Schrimker, 1973). Food preparation and consumption occupy scarce time, and households may choose between prepared food at home and food away from home. The need of at-home convenience foods has been driven by the division of labour in food preparation. Traditionally, households cooked most of their food at home and consumed it at home. But now marketers are providing such type of foods to the consumers where most of the preparation work has been done outside home (Nayga, 1996; Costa et al., 2001; Harris and Shiptsova 2007).
Need and Objective of the Study
A large number of companies had been engaging in production and marketing of convenience food products. Hence, the consumers had more variety of food products available for consumption (Jackson, McDaniel and Rao 1985). In this context, a study on consumer behavior was deemed to be important to understand the women’s attitudes towards convenience food products. Understanding the women’s attitudes would help the firms in formulating strategies to cater to the needs of the consumers and thereby increase their market share. The present study was undertaken with the objective: “to study the various factors influencing the attitudes of working women towards convenience food products in India”.
Review of Literature
A brief review of the work done with regard to various drivers identified by the different researchers is presented here.
Roberts and Wortzel (1979) studied the women’s high levels of participation in the workforce and their changing lifestyles and consumption patterns. The objective of this study was to analyze the women's attitudes and behavior related to their traditional roles i.e. food shopping and food preparation. The results showed that traditional women want to provide high quality food for their families at a reasonable cost with little concern for food shopping and meal preparation time required, while the modern women were more concern with time and less with the cost. Redman (1980) found out the impact of women’s time allocation of expenditure for meals away from home and prepared foods. The results indicated that characteristics of women, which affect the allocation of their time to households’ production do significantly, influence their household expenditure on food requiring relatively little preparation time. Employed wives buy more away from home meals, while education appeared to decrease the demand for prepared foods. Jackson et al. (1985) indicated that working wives tended to have a great dislike for food shopping and cooking that seemed to stem primarily from time consideration. Working wives also exhibited a tendency to be less concerned with the impact of their food shopping and preparation activities with other family members as compared to their counterpart. Park and Capps (1996) estimated the demand for prepared meals by U.S households by using the 1987-88 NFCS, a Heckman two-stage procedure. Prepared meals were defined as those ready-to-eat and those ready-to-cook foods. The results showed that the households headed by younger, more educated, and time constrained managers were more likely to purchase prepared meals and also indicated that prepared meals and food-away- from-home were substitutes. The presence of teenagers in a house was positively associated with expenditure on prepared meals. Glanz et al. (1998) examined the self-reported importance of taste, nutrition, cost, convenience, and weight control on personal dietary choices and whether these factors vary across demographic groups, were associated with lifestyle choices related to health (termed health lifestyle), and actually predict eating behaviour. Results showed that taste was the most important influence on their food choices, followed by cost. The importance of nutrition and importance of weight control was predicted best by subject’s membership in a healthy lifestyle cluster. The study suggested that nutrition concerns were of less relevance to most people than taste and cost. Grunert (2002) applied food-related lifestyles instrument developed by Grunert, Brunso & Bisp (1993) to understand and track changes in consumers’ food related attitude and behaviours. The results of the study revealed that the food related lifestyles instrument will be helpful for the marketer to build a better understanding of Australian food consumers. As the Australian food manufacturers looked ahead to improve their marketing related decisions. They will need an instrument that will help them to understand consumers and customers. Worsley (2000) tried to explore a deeper understanding of human food consumption patterns and factors which influence them. The study explored that food consumption patterns were dynamic and were influenced by complex, interrelated biological, social, culture and psychographic processes. These were evident in the recent attempts to discriminate nutrition and health related dietary patterns in terms of consumer lifestyles and belief systems. Keng and Lin (2005) examined the relationship between wives’ value for time and expenditures on food away from home (FAFH) in Taiwan. The results showed that wives’ value for time, household income, presence of younger children and grandparents, and wives’ education level were the important factors for the amount spent on food away from home (FAFH) and spending on FAFH had also increased over the time. Carrigan et al. (2006) tried to explore the meaning of convenience food for U.K mothers and investigated the relationship between mothers and their families’ food. The findings revealed that convenience had multiple meanings for U.K women, and that convenience food had been incorporated into reinterpreted versions of homemade and proper meals. A hierarchy of acceptable convenience food was presented by the mothers, who tackle complex and conflicting family routines by introducing convenience solutions. Rules of eating have evolved, yet remain essentially controlled by mothers in terms of nutrition. While the traditional model of proper food remains inspirational, contemporary family lifestyles required that convenience food becomes part of the equation. Jabs and Devine (2006) studied the impact of time scarcity, the feeling of not having enough time, on the food consumption patterns such as a decrease in food preparation at home, an increase in the consumption of fast foods, decrease in family meals, and an increase in the consumption of convenience or ready prepared foods. The study discussed the socio-cultural trends that have contributed to the feelings of time scarcity, trends in food choices and nutrition, and the way of measuring time use. Buckley et al. (2007) examined the attitude and behaviour of food consumer on the basis of their convenience food lifestyle. Segmentation analysis, based on the identification of 20 convenience lifestyle factors, identified four convenience food lifestyle segments of consumer: the ‘food connoisseurs’ (26%), the ‘home meal preparers’ (25%), the ‘kitchen evaders’(16%) and ‘the convenience-seeking grazers’(33%). Thus the study provides food producers with an insight about the factors that motivate individuals to purchase convenience food. Costa et al. (2007) studied the motives behind the choice of meal solutions. Mean-end chain theory and laddering interviews were conducted to investigate consumers’ higher motives for choosing among general meal solution and to uncover the attributes consumers find relevant when discriminating between specific meal solution and how these relate to higher motive. The results of the study showed that the replacement of homemade meals by ready meals were to the great extent; depend on how the subject’s trade of perceived sensory and health related benefits with convenience features. Bhuyan (2010) tried to examine how consumers’ attitudes toward food away from home and their personal preferences influence their behaviour of being eating food away from home. The study used the theory of planned behaviour to model consumers’ food away from home behavior. The results showed that the negative attitudes towards FAFH reduced consumers’ frequency of eating out, whereas the availability of healthy food, good service, and convenience in restaurants increased consumers’ frequency of eating out. American consumer spent almost half of their food dollars on food away from home despite potential harmful effects of eating out more frequently. Carrillo (2011) investigated consumers’ factors underlying food choice and their attitude towards healthy eating. The study focused on the perception and frequency of consumption of low-calorie food, however, other food considered healthy was also included in the survey. The results showed that women and adult people are the most concerned population about health and weight control. The second part of the questionnaire asked about the consumption frequencies of different kind of foods and revealed dairy products as the most consumed ones. Furthermore, food with specific health-promoting ingredients exhibited low consumption frequency, most likely motivated by the low interest or knowledge about their health benefits. Amarnath and Vijayudu (2011) found out the factor behind the change in attitudes of rural consumers towards branded packaged food products. The questionnaire based on food choice questionnaire developed by Steptoe et al., 1995 has been used to collect the data from the 100 respondents. The various factors like health, mood, convenience, sensory appeal, natural content, price, control, familiarity, brand image culture and safety has been involved in the questionnaire. A multistage sampling technique has been used to select the sample. The findings of the study revealed that women were more concerned towards factor like sensory appeal, mood, convenience and price as compared to men. Rasanthika and Gunawardana (2013) focused on examining working women’s attitudes towards the consumption of fast food. A survey was conducted using 177 working women in Matara district, Sri Lanka. Structural equation modeling was employed for data analysis. The findings revealed that the perceived convenience of fast food has a significant positive effect over fast food consumption whilst taste, nutritional value and price give a positive but not significant effect. However, perceived quality of fast food indicates a negative but non-significant effect on fast food consumption. Srinivasan and Shende (2015) had studied about the use of convenience food by working women, type of convenience food they generally prefer and what benefits they derived by using such a convenient product. The findings indicated that the non availability of certain ingredients is the major influencing factor, followed by preparation of a variety of meals. Further, Preparing off seasonal food and for emergency situation were seen to be the most beneficial for working women.
The foregoing review of literature shows that though a large number of studies have been carried out on the women’s attitudes towards convenience food products in the western part of the globe, yet there is hardly any comprehensive study which has been conducted in Indian context. Hence, the present paper seeks to make an attempt in that direction where an effort has been made to understand the attitudes of working women towards convenience food products in India.
Data were collected from three cities of Punjab- Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana. These three cities were chosen to represent the three regions of Punjab- Amritsar (Majha), Jalandhar (Doaba) and Ludhiana (Malwa). Women were the basic sampling unit for the present study as they are seen to be mainly responsible for food shopping and food preparation in their households. Data were collected through a structured, pre-tested and non-disguised questionnaire. Women were asked about the various determinants which influence their convenience food consumption behavior. In order to find out the various factors responsible for convenience food consumption, a list of thirty one statements was prepared. The statements are framed on the basis of a review of previous literature (for example, empirical research conducted by Brunso and Grunert (1995); Steptoe et. al., (1995); Barker et al., (1995); Andrews and Smith (1996); Candel, (2001); Ryan et al., (2002); De Boer et al., (2004); Grunert, (2002); Buckley et al., (2007); Brunner et al., (2010); Carrillo (2011); Amarnath and Vijayudu (2011). Experts in the area were also consulted and their suggestions were led to minor, but valuable changes. The preliminary draft of the questionnaire was pre-tested through personal interviews with 60 mothers. This helped in improving the questionnaire. With a few deletions and additions, the final questionnaire was developed. Total 260 questionnaires were finally distributed among the respondents and the respondents (working women) were asked to respond on a five point scale, 1=strongly disagree to 5=strongly agree, about the level of agreement/disagreement regarding their views on the statements given in the questionnaire. Finally, the total 242 (93.1%) questionnaires were collected and used for the analysis. The questionnaire closed by asking respondents to fill out their demographic information. In the present sample, a majority of respondents 152 (62.80%) falls in the age group of 31-45 years. As per their marital status 163 (67.36%) were married and 79 (32.64%) were unmarried, the working women respondents conformed to four income categories with household's income: up to INR 25,000 (35, 14.46%), between INR 25,001 and 50,000 (119, 49.17%), between INR 50,001 and 75,000 (52, 21.49%) and more than INR 75,001 (36, 14.88%). Weighted average scores, standard deviation and Factor Analysis have been used to analyze the data with the help SPSS 19.
In order to gauge the extent of agreement/disagreement regarding various factors which influence the attitudes of working women towards convenience food products, total thirty one statements used along with their weighted average scores (W.A.S.) and standard deviations (SD) are presented in Table-1. Responses to all statements were measured on a five-point scale (from strongly agree to strongly disagree).
Weighted Average Scores and Standard Deviation of statements identifying the various drivers for convenience food consumption
Source: Primary Data
Table-1 indicates that the overall weighted average scores range from as high as 4.55 on the statement S1 (convenience foods are quick to prepare and serve) to as low as 2.04 on the statement S15 (convenience foods encourage inactive lifestyle). The results reveal that out of 31 statements, the majority of the working women agrees to 17 statements. The weighted average scores in all these statements range from 4.55 to 3.63. These statements are: ‘convenience foods are quick to prepare and serve’ (S1, w.a.s. =4.55); ‘convenience foods are what we usually eat’ (S9, w.a.s. =4.31); ‘convenience foods are simple to cook’ (S2, w.a.s. =4.30); ‘convenience foods are better to use in the shortage of time’ (S5, w.a.s. =4.21); ‘convenience foods Contain additives’ (S8, w.a.s. =4.17); ‘convenience foods make me feel good’ (S25, w.a.s. =4.05); ‘convenience foods are good last minute solution’ (S4, w.a.s. =4.00); ‘convenience foods are tastier than home cooked meals’ (S18, w.a.s =4.00); ‘convenience foods have a pleasant smell’ (S13, w.a.s. =3.99); ‘convenience foods help me to relax’ (S26, w.a.s. =3.98); convenience foods are readily available in the market’ (S3, w.a.s. =3.86); ‘convenience foods look tempting’ (S22, w.a.s. =3.83); ‘convenience foods are convenient to store’ (S6, w.a.s. =3.81); ‘convenience foods are better to use whenever I feel tired’ (S10, w.a.s. =3.79); ‘convenience foods give us satisfaction’ (S14, w.a.s. =3.67); ‘convenience foods are available at affordable prices’ (S20, w.a.s. =3.63); ‘convenience foods are familiar to us’ (S21, w.a.s. =3.63). For other statements, the responses of working women are found to be either neutral or not agreed with as the weighted average scores of these statements range from 3.43 to 2.04. The analysis indicates that working women perceive convenience foods as an indispensable part of their food purchase and consumption behavior, but at the same time they feel that convenience foods are not good for health as the consumption of these food products are likely to increase weight and encourage inactive lifestyle.
Attitude of Working Women towards Convenience Food Products: A Factor Analysis Approach
In this section factor analysis has been applied to the thirty one statements given in Table 1, to find out the various factors influencing the attitudes of working women towards convenience food products. In order to check the suitability of the data for factor analysis, correlation matrix was computed which depicted that there were enough correlations to carry out factor analysis. Anti-image correlations were computed. Since the partial correlations were low, it implied that true factors existed in the data. Kaiser-Meyer-Oklin Measure of Sample Adequacy (KMO) was 0.712 that indicated that the sample was good enough for sampling. Bartlett’s Test of Sphericity showed a statistically significant number of correlations among the variables. (Approx Chi-square = 961.926, DF = 171, significance = 0.000). Hence, as revealed by above parameters, the data were found to be fit for factor analysis.
Varimax with Kaiser Normalization method was used for rotating the factor loading. All factor loadings greater than 0.40 (ignoring signs) were retained for further analysis. The results of the Principal Component Analysis and Varimax Rotation for working women sample has been shown in Table-2
Principal Component Analysis with Varimax Rotation
Source: Primary Data
Principal Component Analysis was used for extracting factors and the number of factors to be retained was based on latent root criterion, variance explained and Scree plot analysis. The solution gave six factors which accounted for 58.988 per cent of the total variance. Table-2 shows the extracted factors.
The first column in the Table-2 shows statement labels and columns 2 to 7 shows six factors. The last column shows communalities. Large communalities indicate that a large amount of variance has been accounted for by the factor solution. Eigen values for factor 1 to 6 are 3.576, 2.317, 1.607, 1.517, 1.100 and 1.092 respectively. The percentage of variance explained by individual factors is shown in the penultimate row of the table. The percentage of variance explained by factors 1 to 6 each is 13.613, 10.047, 9.420, 8.800, 8.780, and 8.328 respectively. The percentage of variance is an index to determine how well the total factor solution accounts for what the variables together represent. The present results accounts for 58.988 per cent of the total variance.
Naming of the Factor
All the factors have been given the appropriate name according to the variables that have loaded on to each factor. The six factors described in the Table-2 are discussed below.
Factor 1: Convenience
The analysis shows that ‘convenience’ is the most important factor illustrated among working women respondents for it explains 13.613 per cent of the total variance. The statements retained in this factor are S3 (Convenience foods are readily available in the market), S5 (Convenience foods are better options when there is a shortage of time), S2 (Convenience foods are simple to cook), S4 (convenience foods are good last minute solution) and S6 (Convenience foods are convenient to store). All these statements reveal that food products that save time and effort in preparation, consumption and cleanup are heavily demanded by working women. This may be due to their increasing participation in the labor force and their work timings may not provide them sufficient time to do all the activities fall in the process of cooking. Therefore, they often look for the option through which they can reduce their cooking time, be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner (Srinivasan and Shende, 2015). Saving time and mental and physical efforts are the most important features of convenience food products due to which these food products are highly demanded by working women (Nickols and Fox, 1983).
Factor 2: Sensory Variables
Consumers’ attitudes tend to be highly influenced by sensory variables like taste, appearance and aroma etc. of any food product. This is the second most important factor that accounts for 10.047 per cent of the total variance. Items covered in this construct are S18 (Convenience foods are tastier than home cooked meals), S13 (Convenience foods have pleasant smell) and S22 (Convenience foods look tempting). All these statements disclose that sensory attributes such as appearance of food, its texture, taste, flavor and smell, etc. are critical to the consumer and influence not only the choice but also the consumption of these food products. Sensory variables are rated as very important factor in the selection of convenience food products for consumption.
Factor 3: Mood
This is the third most important factor that explains 9.420 per cent of the total variance. The most important statement covered in this factor is S10 (Convenience foods are better to use when I feel tired) with maximum loading of 0.799. Two more statements fall in this factor are: S14 (Convenience foods give us satisfaction) and S25 (Convenience foods make me feel good). All these statements clearly show that ‘Mood’ is also an important factor that influenced the attitude of working women. In today’s scenario where the proportion of the number of working women has been raising and life becomes so hectic, convenience foods help to reduce the stress and provided time for leisure (Schary, 1971).
Factor 4: Health Issues
A health issue is the fourth factor made up of three statements and is accounts for 8.800 per cent of the total variance. The important variables in this factor are S15 (Convenience foods encourage inactive lifestyle), S16 (Convenience foods are not good for health) and S17 (Convenience foods are likely to Increase weight). This factor indicates that the attitude of working women is not only influenced by convenience and sensory variables, but health attributes are also important for them. With regard to the health value of convenience food, De Boer et al. (2004) found out that health is one of the most significant driving forces behind consumption of any food product. Health claims appearing on most of the products than ever before as consumers nowadays demand foods that are not only more convenient, but are healthier as well (Carlson and Grould, 1994).
Factor 5: Price Influence
This factor accounts for 8.780 per cent of the total variance. The most important dimension in this factor is S20 (Convenience foods are available at the affordable prices). This is followed by S28 (Convenience foods are costlier as compared to home cooked foods) and S30 (Convenience foods have good value for money). All of these statements indicate that price is the fifth important factor that determines the ability of the consumer to purchase convenience food products. Working women consider that buying convenience foods are cheaper than buying all the ingredients and the preparing a meal from scratch.
Factor 6: Familiarity
This factor accounts for 8.328 per cent of the total variance. Dimensions covered under this construct are S9 (Convenience foods are the food products which we usually eat), S21 (Convenience foods are familiar to us) and S27 (Convenience foods are like by me and my family members). This factor suggests that working women prefer to buy convenience food products because their family members like to eat these food products.
Conclusion and Implications
The present study has been carried out to find out the factors influencing the attitudes of working women towards the consumption of convenience food products. The results of the study reveal that ‘convenience’ is the most important factor which influences the attitudes of working women towards convenience food products as this factor explains the 13.613% of the total variance. This is followed by another five factors such as ‘sensory variables’, ‘mood’, ‘health issues’, ‘price influence’ and ‘familiarity’ with the food products. The respondents have stated that they prefer convenience foods due to their busy and hectic lifestyle. All these factors collectively symbolize that increased time pressures, stresses and work-life balance problems are increasingly being faced by working women. Working women do not have enough time to prepare a meal from the scratch by follow the traditional recipes and would prefer to buy packed, clean, and reasonably priced meals rather than returns home from work and do domestic chores. An understanding of the convenience food-consumption patterns and the attitudes of working women helps to marketers in understanding the needs of the consumers and accordingly manufacture and market such food products. Overall, the convenience food market in India is currently at a very emerging stage. Demand for these products is increasing day by day. Need for convenience, rise in the number of working women, health consciousness, increase in the number of organized retail sector, advancement in the food production technology and entry of international players are key factors that influence the attitudes towards convenience food products and resulted in to significant growth in this market. By understanding the attitudes of working women, food manufacturers might better estimate the successful entry in new markets.
Limitations of the study
The study is confined to the three cities of Punjab and the sample size is small owing to time and resource limitations. Attitudes towards convenience food consumption are assessed for working women only. Same analysis con be carried out for non-working women also and a comparative study of working and non-working women can be done. Also, the present study has been conducted through a questionnaire and survey based techniques are known to be associated with their own limitations.
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