An Issue of Food Retailing in India

Published: 2021-09-13 20:10:10
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Category: Retailing, Asia

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ABSTRACT
The organized fruits and vegetables retailing is gaining momentum in the country as consumers have a wide range of retailing formats to choose for purchase of fruits and vegetables. Present study was conducted in Big Bazaar outlet at Hyderabad to analyze the consumer buying behavior and satisfaction of fruits and vegetables. The study was taken up to analyse the consumer buying behavior and factors influencing the purchase of fruits and vegetables. The study further explored the actual performance and expectations of the consumers about the services provided by the outlet and suggesting appropriate measures to improve the performance.
One hundred and twenty consumers were contacted for data collection and statistical tools like LIKERT SCALE, gap analysis through SERQUAL technique and paired t-test were employed. Consumers preferred purchasing of fruits and vegetables at super market/hypermarket and perceived that prices of fruits and vegetables were costly and most of the customers were not willing to buy cut fruits and vegetables. One-stop shop, ability to self-select, availability of exotic fruits and vegetables were found to be most influential factors while purchasing fruits and vegetables. The attributes on which customers were satisfied and those on which they were dissatisfied were examined and brought out so that the retail stores could comply with it to gain more customer satisfaction.INTRODUCTION
Market scenario keeps changing time to time with the changes in customer’s tastes and preferences. Since 1990s many factors contributed to the gradual evolution of the present market scenario. Income level, life styles and social class of people has completely changed over time. This makes a pay for the emergence of retail industry in developing countries like India. (www.retailbiz.com). India is one of the important retail markets for global retailers. Other than the fact that it is one of the biggest economies of the world, its demographics also work in its favour. Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore are at the epicenter of this retail wave. Majority of the global retailers planning to enter the country are considering these four locations in the first phase. Nearly 400 international brands are already present in India. (Knight Frank India Research -Think India Think Retail 2016). Organized retail is still in its infancy with only four per cent penetration level as compared to 80 per cent in USA and 20 per cent in China. Organized retail has witnessed a CAGR of 35 per cent over the past five years and currently accounts for 1.5 per cent of the country’s GDP. The 96 per cent of the retail market is controlled by the unorganized sector which presents a good potential for retailers to tap the unorganized retail market in India.
Retail industry in India is expected to grow to US$ 1.3 trillion by 2020, registering a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16.7 per cent over 2015-20. India is the fifth most preferred retail destination globally. Healthy economic growth, changing demographic profile, increasing disposable incomes, urbanisation, changing consumer tastes and preferences are the other factors driving growth in organised retail market in India. (www.ibef.org). Next few years are likely to witness rapid growth in the organized retailing sector with several leading international players establishing their presence in India by adjusting their formats to suit local tastes and buying behavior while regional players have stepped up their defenses and are striving to gain edge over global players by using their knowledge of local markets. Pertain to perishables, fruits and vegetables are more important for the retailers to concentrate on. Almost all large retailers – such as the Future Group, Reliance, RPG, Godrej Agrovet, ITC etc. have been part of the fruits and vegetables retailing in India and have major expansion plans in many cities. India’s diverse climate ensures availability of all varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables. It ranks second in fruits and vegetables production in the world, after China.
Now every city in India, particularly Hyderabad, fruits and vegetables retailing industry is highly competitive and stores operate in a mature market with slow growth opportunities and contend fiercely for market share. Any factor which might influence profit in such conditions is critical. In this case consumer buying behaviour and customer satisfaction has become key aspects and the point of differentiation in a market where consumers typically make a weekly trip to their preferred store and spend more on this trip than at other times. Hence, every fruits and vegetables retailer has to build relationship with their customers, being able to track their levels of ‘satisfaction’ with respect to the key elements of the retail environment is extremely important. From retailer’s perspective, the aim is to minimize the reasons for complaints and dissatisfaction and the cost of a service recovery plan whilst establishing a track of direct feedback from customers about their reactions to those key elements. In this regard, understanding the consumers visiting the outlet, analyzing their purchasing patterns, identifying the factors that influence to select the point of purchase, their satisfaction levels about the services etc., is imperative.
A study on consumer buying behaviour and customer satisfaction of fruits and vegetables at will help to propose strategies for increasing the sales volume. The objectives henceforth are To identify the factors influencing the purchase of fruits and vegetables at Big Bazaar To explore the actual performance and expectations of the consumer about the services provided by Big Bazaar To suggest appropriate measures to improve the performance of Big Bazaar retail outlet of Hyderabad.
Review
Consumer behaviour considers a wide range of factors influencing the consumer and acknowledges a broad range of consumption activities beyond purchasing. These activities commonly include; need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, building of purchase intention, act of purchasing, consumption and finally disposal. Jeff’s perspective outlines a more holistic and well evolved form that consumer behaviour represents. Improvements to marketing and scholarly methodologies have been instrumental to the transitions that consumer behaviour has experienced over the past century (Jeff Bray, 2008).
Satisfaction could mean that a retailer has just met the customer’s expectations, not exceeded nor disappointed those expectations. The benefits of taking the customer’s response beyond satisfaction at this level by exceeding expectations, is a competitive strategy for many retailers. In recent years, researchers have focused their attention on measuring levels of customer satisfaction (Tse and Wilton, 1988; Peterson and Wilson, 1992; Hackl et al., 2000) and on the cues that signal services quality to customers (Carman, 1990; Parasuraman et al.,1988). In the purchase of vegetables in organised and unorganised vegetable retail outlets, income level of the consumer, their preferred vegetable market place, freshness of the vegetables and the appearance (well cleaned and sorted vegetables) were found to be the major factors influencing choice of an organised/unorganised retail outlet (Anuradha, 2015).
Materials and Methods
The Big Bazaar outlet in L.B Nagar, Hyderabad was selected for this study and a total of 120 consumers visiting the retail outlet formed the sample of the study. Their buying behaviour and satisfaction levels were analysed. Data collection was done covering both peak and odd hours of business for a period of three weeks. The data collected includes factors influencing the purchase of fruits and vegetables, examining the display, price and promotion. They were asked to rate the expectation of the service attributes and also provide their perception on a five point Likert scale. Garrett ranking technique was employed to rank the factors influencing the purchase of fruits and vegetables. The order of merit given by the respondents was transformed into scores.
When consumer’s expectations are greater than their perception of the delivered services, consumers are dissatisfied and feel the quality of the service provided is poor. If the perceptions are greater than expectations it implied that expectations are not only met but exceeded. It allows the management to review whether there may be over-supplying a particular attribute and redeployment of excess resources into features which are under performing can be done. The service quality model indicated that consumer’s quality perceptions are influenced by six dimensions namely, tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, empathy, assurance and merchandise quality. (Levy and Weitz, 2003).
The concept of measuring the difference between expectations and perception in the form of SERVQUAL gap score proved very useful for assessing levels of service quality. Hence the SERVQUAL analysis was chosen for this study to identify service quality gaps of the case firm. This model has many inbuilt advantages such as wide acceptance of the standards for assessing different dimensions of service quality, validity for a number of service situations, reliability, and simplicity in data collection, analysis and interpretation. In this study paired t-test is carried for customers’ expectations and perceptions for service attributes provided by the case firm.
Results
Buying behavior is often influenced by the time they spend in shopping and the day they move out for shopping. Based on this attribute, the customers are categorized into three groups, i.e., shopping on weekdays, weekends and anytime. Around half of the contacted respondents preferred to purchase in weekends, followed by purchase at anytime both holidays and working days and to some extent purchase in working days. Promotional offers could be designed in such a way to attract more customers during weekends. Also varieties may be increased at weekends than other days of the week.
Generally customers opt to shop at a particular outlet for various reasons and in this case four criteria were taken for consideration to categorize the customers regarding the preferred channel for purchase of fruits and vegetables. Study conducted by Devendhiran (2011) has proved that most of the customers in cities choose super market as their channel for purchasing fruits and vegetables. Majority of customers preferred purchasing at super market/hyper market because of the quality, availability of exotic fruits and vegetables and reliable price of fruits and vegetables provided by them, followed by street vendors, local markets and retail /grocery stores.
The frequency of purchase of fruits and vegetables may be every day, once in a week, twice in a week, thrice in a week and on unplanned basis. This is because most of the respondents fall in nuclear family setup and they may be having reasons like storage, need for freshness, and proximity of stores. Most of the customers purchased fruits and vegetables from Big Bazaar occasionally. Only one third of respondents were purchasing fruits and vegetables on regular basis. Occasional buyers were the weekend buyers and they preferred the case firm for the availability of exotic fruits and vegetables while they made their daily purchase from kirana stores. So, the case firm should attract occasional buyers by frequent promotional activities.
Regarding information about store the respondents were aware by themselves and through their friends and neighbours. There was no source of information available through in-store wall poster and in-store advertisement. So, the case firm should make necessary measures to utilize these modes for communicating the availability of perishables within the store to attract more customers. Frequent announcements, posters at the entrance and sales counters were the most preferred mode of communication to attract customers visiting Big Bazaar. Most customers are towards FMCG goods and other varietal products as it was a hypermarket. Regarding the opinion about the price of fruits and vegetables at Big Bazaar, majority of the customers perceived that prices of fruits and vegetables were costly followed by people who felt it worth for the money spent and none of the respondents said the prices were cheaper.
Factors influencing the purchase of fruits and vegetables
Factors influencing the purchase of fruits and vegetables in an outlet gain a significant importance and helps in identifying the major reasons for their loyalty. Devendhiran (2011) used similar factors in his study and found that availability of varieties and price were the most important factors for purchasing fruits and vegetables. In the present study, Garrett ranking technique was used to enumerate the results and the most important reasons for the present purchase made by the respondents was studied.
Factors influencing the purchase of fruits and vegetables Garrett score Rank
One-Stop shop 74.84 I
Ability to self-select 66.62 II
Availability of exotic fruits and vegetables 60.98 III
Assortment 53.05 IV
Display 46.27 V
Ripeness 41.12 VI
Convenience 38.56 VII
Cleanliness 38.30 VIII
Availability Seasonal fruits and vegetables 30.23 IX
While purchasing of fruits and vegetables, one-stop shop was considered as the foremost factor with a Garrett score of 74.84 (Table 1). As most of the consumers were under the employed category, buying from a single retail outlet would drastically reduce their time on shopping. Ability to self- select was ranked as the second factor by the customers because many of the customers preferred touch and feel while purchasing. Availability of exotic fruits and vegetables was ranked as third factor followed by the other factors such as assortment, display and ripeness.
Expectation rating for the service attributes by the respondents
The expectation scores provided by the respondents pertaining to 24 attributes of services offered by case firm were analysed. And the results indicated the highest mean score was given to the attribute namely willingness to help (4.95), followed by convenient store hours (4.89), parking facility (4.84), assured quality of fruits and vegetables (4.79), hygiene and cleanliness (4.90), maintaining the freshness of the perishables (4.78), assured quantity of fruits and vegetables (4.74), billing time (4.69), checkout speed (4.57), availability of all range of fruits and vegetables (4.50) and pleasant music in the store (4.50). The lowest mean score was for the attribute home delivery (2.15), followed by replacement assurance (2.7), bagging material (3.66), staff knowledge about the produce (3.89) and frequent shopper program (3.95).

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