Review Article: 2022 Vol: 26 Issue: 4
Meenakshi Thakur, Sri Aurobindo College (Evening), University of Delhi
Amandeep Nahar, Sri Aurobindo College (Evening), University of Delhi
Citation Information: Thakur, M., Nahar, A. (2022) Assessing the influence of COVID-19 pandemic on consumers’ intention towards the purchase of green food products - An empirical study. Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, 26(4), 1-13.
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has substantially impacted the behaviors and intentions of consumers thereby creating a sustainable and healthier consumption era. Therefore, there exists an increasing potential for expanding the market for green food products in India. In such a crisis situation that the pandemic has brought, it is assumed that green food products have the potential to secure the environment and offer food safety along with public health. Therefore, the study predominantly aims to evaluate the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on the rising significance of green products. Furthermore, it aims to assess the factors that have an impact on the health of consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic on green products consumption and assess the influence of these factors on the consumers’ intention to buy green food products. The outcomes of this study revealed that there is a significant impact of health factors on the purchase intention towards green food products and there also exists a significant impact of the perception of consumers on the purchase intention of green food products. However, since the correlation between the behavioral purchase intentions of consumers and their actual behavior is not always perfect, therefore future research can consider the findings of this study to develop a model to reach an ultimate purchase behavior to support the outcomes of this study.
Green Food Products, Sustainability, Consumer Purchase Intention, Consumer Behavior, Green Consumption, Covid 19 Pandemic.
With the excessive exploitation of natural resources and environmental devastation, the notion of green consumerism has grown in popularity and has also gained global attention (Sachdeva et al., 2015; Akenji, 2014). According to several surveys, public awareness regarding sustainability and environmental concerns has steadily risen over time (Townsend, 2014). Food safety and security are major concerns these days due to consumers' growing awareness of the environmental effect based on their decisions (Yogananda & Nair, 2019).
Green foods are defined as safe and high-quality edible agriculture-based as well as processing-based goods which are farmed in an environmentally friendly manner and manufactured in accordance with the green food manufacturing standard (Roy & Nayak, 2022). Green food products are being attributed with several claims and zero waste and a sustainable choice are just a few of the sustainable claims that are increasingly appearing on green items today (Dauvergne & Lister, 2013). The adoption of green consumer behavior has changed the importance of numerous decision elements as well as customers' attitudes regarding product buying intent (Chen & Chai, 2010). Manufacturers react to growing consumer knowledge of sustainable products by emphasizing their own responsibility towards the environment in order to attract new customers. This development is not confined to producers in order to build the intent of customer to acquire these things. Green product retailers also recognize the value of commitment to the environment and have begun to modify the concept of retailing traditionally by shifting towards green tailing in order to distinguish themselves and compete effectively (Simpson & Radford, 2012). The observed scenario for green consumer behavior prior to the COVID-19 pandemic has been different. Despite the fact that various companies have launched green products, their success rate has been dismally low so far (Gleim & Lawson, 2014). Indeed, a significant gap has been observed between what individuals profess to feel about the environment and their subsequent activities, which is unexpected (Barbarossa & Pastore, 2015).
The emergence of the COVID-19 epidemic has had a vital impact on consumers’ habits and behaviors, ushering in a new era of consumerism that is perceived to be more sustainable and healthier (Perlman, 2020). The coronavirus infection (COVID-19) is still active since 2019. The epidemic has been observed to affect not only people's emotions and cognition, but also their social behavior, consumption patterns, education methods, and hygiene practices. Despite the fact that the current circumstances are projected to recover in the future, the pandemic has unquestionably shown significant repercussions pointing toward the market's dynamic shifts (Sutherland et al., 2020). For the attributes of green foods being safe and healthy, the COVID-19 crisis has been shown to affect consumers' views and attitudes regarding green food, which may lead to a shift in consumers' future diets (Xie et al., 2020). To successfully reply to the higher expansion of green foods markets, it has become critical to research consumers' buying habits, with a particular focus on purchase intention, which is considered to be the foundation of accomplished buying behavior. As a result, marketers and academics must fully comprehend the elements that influence consumers' intentions of purchasing green foods, particularly during COVID-19 (Chen & Lobo, 2012; Bai et al., 2019; Qi et al., 2020). Hence, the objectives of this empirical research are:
1. To evaluate the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on the rising significance of green food products.
2. To assess the health-related factors and their impact on green food products consumption during COVID-19 pandemic.
3. To assess the impact of the factors that influence the consumers’ intentions to purchase green food products.
Green Food Products
Environmental protection is a popular issue across many regions in the world, and people have therefore become more concerned regarding the environment as well. The increased demand for green products reflects an increase in environmentally conscious behavior (Boztepe, 2012). Purchasing intent for eco-friendly products by consumers, as per Laureti & Benedetti (2018), can lessen the adverse environmental impact of food production, and organic foods, provided by highly effective items and can secure the environment as well as public health. Bekele et al. (2017) defined green foods on the basis of their environmental friendliness. With regard to nutrient value, quality, and hygiene, ordinary products are limited. Green foods are termed as such because they are produced and prepared in an environment free of pollution or detrimental circumstances.
Green technology, as explained by Rajasekaran & Gnanapandithan (2016), is a potentially essential notion that has been playing a significant role in achieving global sustainable development. Today, the world expects and requires a major novel idea that will result in a better environment. Green products are among the ones which are produced with green technology and have been displaying zero negative impacts on the environment. The use of green technology with green goods should be encouraged to conserve naturally accessible resources and accomplish sustainable growth. Hurtado-Barroso et al. (2019) mentioned that organic foods are perceived to be healthier than standard meals since these foods are believed to offer health advantages, are produced in a pesticide-free setting and are also superior in flavor. Organic foods are frequently seen as healthier among consumers when compared to regular products. Khan et al. (2015) explained that consumers need safe, high-quality, and healthy food items, therefore food safety appears to be crucial to food sector operators. Green food consumption might improve consumers' quality of life while also encouraging green food production. The growing purchase behavior, on the other hand, is related to higher consumer knowledge of food safety and health issues.
COVID-19 and Transforming Food Consumption Behavior
In a report by FAO (2020), it was mentioned that the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly and widely spread across the world, posing some serious food security and nutrition related threats since the end of 2019. The spread of the virus had a major impact on the food supply and has made it difficult for people to get access to food due to a variety of factors. Lockdown measures have an especially damaging influence on food movement along the international trade routes. As borders closed and demand for specific food items decreased, people became more reliant on locally cultivated foods. Differentiated reactions have arisen in response to these developments. People have started becoming more concerned about food safety and are demanding easy accessibility to fresh fruits as well as vegetables. People started desiring to grow their own foods to ensure their food as well as nutrition security, therefore home and communal gardening saw a boom in popularity. As a result of these changes in food ecosystems, food diversification and nourishment were influenced in diverse ways.
Ben Hassen et al. (2020) assessed the consequence of COVID-19 on consumers’ knowledge, attitude, and consumption of food practices in Qatar. The findings suggested significant shifts in how people eat, buy, and connect with food. Consequently, the survey findings indicated a trend toward healthy foods; a surge in domestic product demand due to food safety concerns; a transition in food acquisition mode (due to an increase in web-based purchasing of groceries); and an improvement in cooking talents of cooking. The rapid influence of the pandemic on eating habits as well as the way of living among the population of Italy was explored by Di Renzo et al. (2020). The findings revealed that a well-balanced diet, which can aid in immune maintenance, is critical for preventing and treating viral infections. A healthy diet is essential, and micronutrient supplements may be useful, particularly for disadvantaged groups. The impact of essential quality, environment awareness, health consciousness, local support, and process accessibility on the propensity of individuals to eat organic items in the time of the COVID-19 crisis was investigated by Ghali-Zinoubi, (2021), considering the availability of food as a moderator. In terms of organic food items, the findings revealed that health concern has been the primary driver for eating local organic food. The innate quality of the process and its closeness were also important factors. The desire to purchase organic items is however very less influenced by the support of local communities and awareness of the environment.
Factors affecting Green Food Product Purchase
Much research focused on assessing intention to buy in a range of items, as per Van et al. (2018). When individuals grow more conscious of their health and the environment, green product research becomes increasingly important. The Theory of Planned Behavior and the Technology Acceptance Model were applied by the researchers to examine factors influencing green food purchasing intentions. The findings revealed that attitudes toward green food buying have been influenced by the perceived effectiveness and the perceived convenience of buying of green products. The purchase intent for green food products is also positivity related to subjective norms, perceived benefits of green food, and attitudes toward purchasing green food.
Joshi & Rahman (2015) looked at 53 empirical studies on green purchasing behavior as well as papers on attitude-behavior discrepancies in the context of green shopping. This study observed multiple common incentives, facilitators, and barriers that affect the decision of consumer to buy to green products, as well as plausible explanations for inconsistencies in green purchase behavior. Emotions, perceived consumer efficacy, value, perceived behavioral control, habits, trust, personal norms, and knowledge are all elements that influence individual behavior. Price, product quality and availability, brand image, subjective norms, store-related features, eco-labelling and certification are some of the elements that present situational forces. According to Krishna & Balasubramanian (2021), the growing concern over health and environmental hazards related to the widespread use of chemical fertilizers has required the development of a new type of agriculture. Organic goods are thought to be slightly processed in order to preserve the food's purity by excluding artificial substances and preservatives. The authors also looked at the aspects that influence customers' organic purchasing decisions. According to the study outcomes, respondents’ knowledge, attitude, concern for the environment, level of satisfaction, loyalty and trust appear to have the most impact on their purchase intentions.
COVID-19 and Green Food Purchase Intention
COVID-19 ushers in a new normal of living in society and corporate activities simultaneously. As a result, a thorough grasp of consumer preferences and product and service purchase decisions is critical. Latip et al. (2020) conducted research on organic food purchase intentions in the new normal practice. The information regarding food safety effected the factors of attitude, social pressure, perceived independence, and trust on green, entrenched in consumers as survey participants, according to the findings. Further, due to a lack of data on existing market demand and conditions on customer purchase intentions of natural foods related to food safety awareness, Latip et al. (2021) carried out another study. In a new normal life setting, they conducted research to assess customer perceptions of organic food. Attitude, perceived social pressure, and perceived independence all impact the purchase intention of consumers towards organic food items in a new normal life, as per the findings. It is not, however, regarded as a green trust. Furthermore, consumer views’ regarding organic food purchase intentions have been considerably moderated by food safety.
The present COVID-19 is pressing a reconsideration of the buying decision-making criteria and consumer behavior Alaimo et al. (2020) set out to find out what factors influenced people's decision to buy food online during a pandemic emergency. People who have purchased food over the internet before, possess better knowledge and believe that digital channels of food are straightforward to use and give a better buying experience, according to the data. These results might be important for future green issues across the globe since online purchasing could provide businesses with a competitive advantage in terms of sustainability. The worldwide catastrophe in the form of the COVID-19 epidemic has resulted in panic purchasing, bare shelves in shops, no available food stocks, and a sudden rise in online sales in supermarkets. Supermarkets, manufacturers, marketers, and enterprises have all had to make adjustments to changing habits of customers' purchase decisions in the food industry. Price and quality are two of the greatest aspects of the consumer decision-making process; in particular, customers in crisis situations are concerned more about heightened price sensitivity and perceived food product quality. Their research looked at whether the consumer purchase process and related behavior have altered due to the persistence of the COVID-19 epidemic with respect to price sensitivity and perceived quality within main food categories which include meat, fruits and vegetables. The results highlighted that in the existence of the present COVID-19 crisis, the consumer purchase process and related behavior with respect to price sensitivity and perceived quality of meat, fruits, and vegetables, has altered.
The research methodology is a pivotal section of any research framework. The research methodology acts as a rationale for the empirical analysis that is conducted in accordance with the study’s objectives. With the help of the various components of research methodology, the study is structured in a systematic and strategic manner. In particular, the methodology involves the techniques and procedures used in the research for the identification, selection, processing, examination, and analysis of information on the area under investigation. It facilitates to critically evaluate the reliability and validity of the information (Snyder, 2019). The present study being empirical research has adopted a quantitative research approach to statistically measure the numerical data collected from the respondents. In line with this, the study employs a positivist research paradigm to interpret the results of the study (Khaldi, 2017). The research design adopted is a descriptive in nature as it is the most appropriate while conducting a study aimed at identifying characteristics, patterns, and behaviors of individuals (Akhtar, 2016).
A questionnaire-based survey was used to acquire data for this study in order to analyze the hypotheses that were developed. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the influence of health-related variables on green product consumption and consumer intent to purchase green foods during the COVID-19 epidemic. The fundamental components, namely health considerations, consumer perception, and consumer intention, have been considered when developing the questionnaire for this research paper. The responses have been intended to be recorded on a 5-point Likert scale, with strongly disagree=1, and strongly agree=5, for designing the questionnaire. The questionnaire has been designed to collect information with regard to factors related to health during the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the perception of consumers regarding green food products, and the impact on consumers’ intention toward the purchase of green food products. Multiple items were part of each construct to collect relevant information from the participants.
Consumers who have previously purchased green food are the focus of this research. For this investigation, the convenience sampling strategy has been employed to select the sample from the population of consumers. Based on this sampling technique, a total of 380 green consumers have been identified from the consumer population for primary data collection. Consumers who visit specific green food outlets have been provided with a structured questionnaire. The questionnaire was divided into two parts: the first part included the demographic profile questions, and the second included questions related to health-related factors of the pandemic, the impact of the COVID-19 on the consumer perception of green food products, and the impact of consumers intention towards green food purchase. Total 380 responses have been collected, the data analysis for the current study was performed with the help of the SPSS software using multiple statistical tests. The data analysis in the study has been carried out using different statistical techniques such as frequency distribution, descriptive statistics, and regression analysis to derive the major outcomes of the study.
This section of the empirical study presents the varied empirical findings that have been derived through multiple phases of statistical analysis to evaluate the hypotheses. It outlines the major results established after channelizing the data analysis techniques and aims at discussing these empirical findings elaborately. The statistical findings have been predominantly structured using expressive tables and charts for better comprehension of the outcomes. The results of the study are segregated into various groups especially to serve the pre-established objectives concisely. The results of the quantitative analysis are comprehensively interpreted and discussed in the following section.
From the table 1 it has been observed that the majority of respondents who are consumers of green food products are males indicating that male consumers participated in the study more than female consumers. In term of age, it was found that the majority of the respondents were between the ages of 18 and 25 years old, indicating the increasing popularity of green food products consumption among the millennials due to the increasing awareness regarding health consciousness. Further, in terms of occupation, it was observed that the majority of the consumers were involved in services indicating that the majority of the green food products consumers were employed and had a job to facilitate the affordability of these products. Moreover, with regards to the education level, it was observed that most of the respondents were graduates indicating that the consumers involved in the study possessed a decent level of knowledge and awareness regarding the positive and negative impacts of green food products which could help provide somewhat accurate information needed for the study. Apart from this, with regards to the income per annum also it was observed that the higher number of the respondents had an income between 0 to 5,00,000 lakhs indicating that the consumers were financially sound enough to afford green food products which are otherwise considered to be expensive.
N = 380
|56 and above
|Income per annum (INR)
|0 - 5,00,000
Source: Compiled from questionnaire.
The descriptive statistics of the various factors of the COVID-19 pandemic that influence consumer intentions to purchase green food products have been analyzed and interpreted.
Factors Related to Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The descriptive statistics for all the factors pertaining to health during the pandemic were analyzed and it was observed that the mean value is highest for the statement I believe that green food products are good for me and my family’s health at 4.13 with standard deviation of 0.94. The higher mean value indicates that among all other factors, consumers’ belief in green food products for their personal health and family’s health is highest in terms of health during the pandemic, however, a relatively lower standard deviation indicates that the values of the variable are clustered around the mean.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Perception of Green Food Products
The descriptive statistics for all the factors related to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on consumers’ perception of green food products were analyzed and it was observed that the mean value is highest for the statement I think that green food products consumption is beneficial for all age groups at 4.05 with standard deviation of 1.02. The higher mean value indicates that among all other factors, consumers’ perception of the benefits of green food products for all age groups is highest in terms of the influence of the pandemic on their perception, and a higher standard deviation indicate that the values of the variable are more spread out over a broad range.
Impact on Consumers’ Intention towards the Purchase of Green Food Products
The descriptive statistics for all the factors related to the impact of consumers’ intention towards green food product purchase were analyzed and it was observed that the mean value is highest for the statement If the green foods are adequately priced, I prefer to buy green food products for my health at 3.94 with standard deviation of 0.93. The higher mean value indicates that among all other factors, consumers' intention to buy green food products for health if these products are affordable, is highest in terms of their purchase intention of green food products, however, a relatively lower standard deviation indicate that the values of the variable are more clustered around the mean.
The table 2 shows reliability statistics for the sample data of 380 sample size and 17 numbers of items that are the variables involved in the study. The Cronbach Alpha acquired is 0.962 which is greater than 0.7 and is therefore deemed to be good.
|N of items
The hypothesis testing has been used in this study as the primary goal of the research is to evaluate the impact of the factors pertaining to health during the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer purchase intentions toward green products as well as the impact of the consumers’ perception on the consumers purchase intentions on these products. The type and nature of the nexus between the independent variables, which are the factors related to health during the COVID-19 pandemic and the perception of consumers, and the dependent variable, that is, purchase intention, can be well understood with the help of hypothesis testing. It will facilitate the determination of whether the data acquired from the sample of green product consumers are statistically significant or not. It will also help in determining the validity and reliability of the outcomes in a systematic manner.
In this study, the hypothesis developed have been validated using statistical tools and techniques and the results have been generated using regression analysis. The regression analysis is usually conducted when the study aims to forecast a dependent variable from multiples independent variables. Regression analysis describes the manner in which the changes in each of the independent variables are associated with the changes in the dependent variable. The use of regression analysis in hypothesis testing confirmed whether the beta coefficients are significant in a linear regression model. The regression model is run to test whether the data is significant or not by checking if the coefficient is significant. Therefore, in order to determine statistical significance using regression analysis, the beta coefficient and the corresponding p-value are looked at. The hypotheses in this study have been tested using regression analysis conducted using SPSS.
H0: There is no significant impact of health factors on intention towards purchase.
Table 3 shows the regression coefficients for factors pertaining to your health during the COVID-19 pandemic and it has been observed that the beta coefficient corresponding to the association between health factors and intention towards purchase is 0.784 and its related p-value was 0.000<0.05. As the p-value is less than 0.05, the alternate hypothesis is accepted, and the null in hypothesis is rejected. Therefore, it has been observed that there is significant impact of health factors on intention towards purchase. According to Qi et al. (2020), the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the supply of food globally in terms of producers, processes as well as consumers at multiple levels. There has been a major shift in the consumption patterns as the pandemic kept continuing with an increasing number of consumers adopting a lifestyle that is healthy and sustainable and increasing green food items consumption for the concerns of food safety. The outcomes of the study indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the consumers to shift towards organic food primarily due to its characteristics pertaining to health and safety which could help in improving the future diets of the consumers. Therefore, health consciousness has been regarded as one of the most motivating factors among consumers which generated their intention towards the purchase green food products as the consumers felt that eating healthier food during the crisis could benefit them and increase their immunity. Hence, the finding of this study is in alignment with the existing literature.
Factors Related To Your Health During The Covid-19 Pandemic
Factors related to your health during Covid-19 pandemic
Source: Compiled from questionnaire.
H0: There is no significant impact of perception on intention towards purchase.
Table 4 shows the regression coefficients for perception towards green food products during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been observed that the beta coefficient corresponding to the association between perception towards green food products and intention towards purchase is 0.802 and its related p-value is 0.000<0.05. As the p-value was less than 0.05, the alternate hypothesis is accepted, and the null hypothesis is rejected. Therefore, it has been observed that there is a significant impact of perception regarding the purchase of green food products during the COVID-19 pandemic. Qi & Ploeger (2021) stated that the emergence of the pandemic significantly impacted the habits, behaviors, and perceptions of consumers in creating an era of healthier consumption. The study indicated that consumer perception toward green food products has increased during the pandemic mainly due to food safety concerns. Moreover, individuals are likely to consume more sustainable and eco-friendly food products so that their food safety level increases. Moral attitude is one of the behavioral attributes of consumers that influence their perception of consuming green food products. Apart from this, as mentioned earlier, the pandemic’s impact on green food consumption revealed that the majority of the consumers have become increasingly health-conscious which increases their perception of the consumption of such food products.
Perception Towards Green Food Products During The Covid-19 pandemic
|(Constant) Perception towards green food products during the Covid-19 pandemic
|• Dependent Variable: Purchase intention towards the purchase of green food products
Source: Compiled from questionnaire.
The outcomes derived in this study revealed that after the emergence of the pandemic, consumers’ intentions to purchase green food products has increased significantly. The outcomes of the analysis conducted in the study reinforced the existing evidence that factors including attitude, perceived ease of use, perceived benefits, health consciousness, food safety, sustainability, and so on have played significant roles in driving consumers' intention toward buying green food products during the period of COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, based on the analysis conducted, the factors pertaining to health during the COVID-19 pandemic have been observed to have a greater influence on purchase intent. Besides, the perception regarding green food products were found to have a major impact on consumers' purchase intention towards consumption of green food products during COVID-19. In addition to this, this empirical study is one of the initial attempts in exploring the effect of the COVID-19 on consumers’ intention in purchasing green food products by conducting a questionnaire-based survey. As the pandemic has been witnessed by people across the globe, such influence is stronger theoretically as compared to the regular setting as every person has their personal concerns about the circumstances. Particularly one will perceive the pressure from society to behave in a certain way. Besides that, it is also related to how strong the individual’s wants are or how much they conform to the perception of other.
Therefore, the significance of the health-related factors on purchase intention of green food products by consumers is a specific behavior that people have acquired from society as a result of the ongoing pandemic and thus, is in conjunction with existing studies in this field. The results of the study have therefore potentially figured a pathway for expanding the green food market in India in the future. The results explored and developed a fresh model to get a better understanding of the manner in which various factors influence the behavioral intentions of consumers towards the purchase of green food products. It showed that the pandemic emergency has not only increased the health and environmental awareness of individuals but also their perception regarding the consumption of safe food due to the increased vulnerability they are subjected to. This research, therefore, highlighted how the crisis caused by the pandemic can demonstrate an exceptional opportunity to educate as well as engage consumers towards better diets, exploiting their positive attitudes towards sustainability issues. Therefore, it is imperative for policymakers and food product companies to create opportunities for consumer discussion to promote the consumption of healthy green food items. However, this study is subject to certain limitations which should be considered for future research in this field. Although the findings suggested that health factors significantly impact the intention towards the purchase and there is a significant impact of perception on intention towards the purchase, the correlation between behavioral intentions of consumers and their actual behavior is not always perfect. Therefore, future research can consider the findings of this study to develop a framework to reach a final purchase behavior to support the findings of this study. Secondly, the study includes a sample of only green food product consumers to collect information that might result in bias thereby giving inaccurate outcomes. Therefore, it is recommended that future studies include consumers of diverse populations from different backgrounds such as consumers of both conventional food products as well as green food products to get a comprehensive understanding of the purchase intention towards green food products and the challenges faced in the process of purchasing these, in the wake of the pandemic. Future studies can modify or change the proposed framework of this study in accordance with the new objectives.
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Received: 10-May-2022, Manuscript No. AMSJ-22-11902; Editor assigned: 11-May-2022, PreQC No. AMSJ-22-11902(PQ); Reviewed: 24-May-2022, QC No. AMSJ-22-11902; Revised: 26-May-2022, Manuscript No. AMSJ-22-11902(R); Published: 28-May-2022