Consumer behavior is the study of what, how, when, and why people buy or consume. Psychology, sociology, socio-psychology, anthropology and economics are the main elements/variables of this study. It is the attempts to understand the buyer decision processes as well as decision making process, both individually and in groups. In addition to that, it also tries to assess influences on the consumer from groups like family, friends, and society in general. One most important issue about consumer behavior is concerning food consumption.
It is clear that food consumption behavior of people in Thailand has changed considerably since the last 15 years. Nutrition Survey conducted in 1995 showed that the average fat consumption per day for the Thai people was less than 30% of the total calories. However, according to a later study on nutritional status, the number has significantly risen since then. Changes in food consumption behavior of Thai people can be observed from their diets. In the past, the main diets of Thais are mainly consisted of vegetables and grain.
Some well-known and popular dishes like Pad Kraprao, Tom Yum, Nam Prig, and Som Tum are rich in fibers and vitamins and do not contain much fat or protein. Therefore, the amount of protein and fat consumption was relatively small then. Later when globalization and capitalism has become predominant in Thailand, many Western cultures flooded the country. It was no exception with eating habits. While the country was keeping up with the developed world in term of economic growth, the openings of new department stores around the city were followed by the start of many Western style restaurants and dining.
Most Western foods are mainly made of cheese, butter, wheat flour, and meat. All of these are the major source of calories and fat while they lack fibers and vitamins. Another important consequence of such economic development was the flourish of media in this consumption-driven society. Advertisements and commercials also play a very important role in the shift of consumer behavior. They stimulate over consumption in both kids and adults. As we can see, there are more and more advertisements relating food on the TV, magazines, and also the Internet. Again, most of them are fast foods and sweets.
The main objective of these advertisements is to establish a social value of fast foods consumption by making it becomes a fashion. Use of marketing techniques is very effective indeed. A few years earlier, it could be said that fast food franchises like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and KFC were very popular. They had once become a symbol of modern generation and urban lifestyle. However, even though those fast food chains still exist today but they have already lost their popularity as many new competitors like Sizzler, Fuji, and MK could offer better value for health-conscious consumers.
The rise of Seven-Eleven has made fast food become even more reachable. Also most of them are priced competitively. Hot dogs, sausages, hamburgers, and sandwiches are some of their popular menus. It is interesting to point out that these menus contain a lot of protein, fat, and calories. However, more choices have also become available as we can see that the company has introduced a line of Thai food like E-Zy Go as well. Most fast foods contain high calories and, possibly, too much sodium. Therefore, eating too much fast food can lead to various diseases.
Heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes are some common diseases that are caused by improper eating habit i. e. eating too much fat, protein, and carbohydrate with too little vegetable and fiber intake. Cancer in digestive system can also be found in people who have improper diets even though the relationship is not so explicit. To sum up, eating too much fast food is surely bad for health. However, most Thais are changing their eating habits toward more health-conscious lifestyle.
The evidence of the statement is that people have more choices choosing what to eat and so many restaurants offering healthy Asian style cuisines are becoming very popular while fast food franchises like McDonald’s and KFC are losing it popularity. Even though this indicates a good sign, consuming to much food would never be good for health. Our health will remain in good condition by choosing foods and drinks in amounts that help maintain a healthy weight and balancing calorie intake with physical activities.