Academic journal article IUP Journal of Brand Management

Applying the Theory of Planned Behavior to Understand Indian Housewives' Purchase Behavior towards Healthy Food Brands

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Brand Management

Applying the Theory of Planned Behavior to Understand Indian Housewives' Purchase Behavior towards Healthy Food Brands

Article excerpt


The Indian Health & Wellness (H&W) food industry has witnessed considerable growth over the last few years. The Indian health food market which was pegged at ^9,000 cr in the year 2010, is expected to reach ^22,500 cr by 2015 growing at a CAGR of 20%. (Technopark Advisors, 2012). Encouraged by this growth rate, companies operating in this category are either launching healthier versions of existing products or launching completely new products altogether. A number of factors have spurred the growth in consumption of H&W products in India, the major ones among them being:

Rising Incomes: Real GDP in India has been growing at approximately 8% over the last 5 years. Despite the slowdown, the Indian economy continues to grow at a consistent pace. This has resulted in rising income levels, which in turn have driven the consumption of value-added food categories particularly H&W that have been priced relatively higher than basic food products.

Increased Consumption of Packaged Foods: The packaged foods category has faced considerable resistance in the Indian markets as they initially had been perceived to be lacking in freshness. This aversion had been fuelled by many factors like traditional-cum-orthodox mindset particularly of the Indian housewife, high prices of packaged foods, lack of awareness, low levels of penetration of microwave ovens and variations in taste and preferences across regions. However, changes in lifestyles brought about by double income households, paucity of time, growth of organized retailing and global exposure resulted in the gradual acceptance of packaged foods. The size of the Indian packaged food industry is pegged at $15 bn, growing at a CAGR of about 15 to 20% annually and is expected to touch $30 bn by 2015 (PTI, 2013).

Rising Health Concerns: Rising incomes, fast pace of lives, increasing work stress, unhealthy eating habits have resulted in a host of lifestyle disorders among the urban Indian consumers. Primary among these disorders are: obesity, heart disorders, digestive disorders and diabetes. India had the 2nd largest diabetic population in the world at approximately 61.3 million in 2011 (GBI Research, 2013). Heart disease has become the biggest killer in urban and rural India. Rising awareness levels have heightened the concern for lifestyle diseases as a result of which urban consumers are exhibiting an increased preference for low-fat, low-sugar/low carbohydrates and low cholesterol food intake. Marketers of these healthy food products have therefore taken it upon themselves to educate the target audiences about the ills associated with the high-risk lifestyles and foods. The products included in the H&W category have been further classified into better-for-you foods that include low cholesterol edible oils, 0% trans fat snacks and biscuits, and diet milk/curd/icecreams/colas; functional or fortified foods which include iodine fortified salt, fortified biscuits, and fortified breakfast cereals; and health drinks and natural foods that comprise 100% natural fruit juices, pickles without preservatives (Asia Business Generator Project, n.d).

"India has more working women than does any other country in the world. Of the entire workforce of 400 million, 30-35% are female, and of these women, only 20% work in urban India" (Nasscom and Mercer, 2009). The marketers have been targeting working women for the purchase of healthy foods, but a majority of the women in India are housewives. The Indian housewife takes great pride in managing her house and her kitchen. Historically, she has been responsible for the home and the family, and the tradition continues. The responsibility of maintaining a happy family atmosphere lies squarely on the lady of the house irrespective of the fact that she is working and managing the office also (Nathawat and Mathur, 1993). Double income has its benefits and adds to the spending power of the family. The healthy brands in India target this segment of working women who have no time to cook and still strive to stay healthy and fit. …

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