Human beings make use of economic goods and services in an effort to satisfy their recurring wants while firms while utilize factor inputs in the production process. The purchase of goods and services by these two economic entities that is firms and households constitute consumption at that particular time. Different individuals consume at different level depending the amount of income they earn. The rich are seen to have a higher purchasing power and thus after they adjust their savings and consumption levels, they still consume relatively more than low income earners. The trends of consumption behaviors of all commodities tend to be similar showing only slight differences on the degree of responsiveness to changes in income except for the inferior and giffen goods that are termed as not normal. Since both beef and horse meat are normal goods we expect an increase in income to increase their demand as well as consumption. However, the responsiveness of consumption of these two commodities should be different due to other determinants of their consumption.
Meat is viewed as luxury food substance where the low income earners are expected to consume meat at very low levels. Contrary to this the consumption of meat in the most developed countries has been declining with the rich consuming less and less amounts. In Europe and specifically UK, citizens have been alerted about the nutritional value together with the health impacts associated with the consumption of certain foods and the lack to consume some others. Meat has been associated with some form of negative implications on health that result from prolonged consumption of not only meat but also meat products. These negative implications overdo the utility gain that is acquired from meat consumption, an aspect that has converted the meat consumers to vegetarians hence reducing the demand for meat. However the taste associated to meat has retrained it as part of diet, but its consumption remains at reduced rate that is continuously reducing. This calls for the meat producing and processing industries to take action and improve on the quality by either reducing the negative impacts a step that should be followed by an enormous advertising to restore the public image.
Income has always been modeled as the major issue affecting consumption of normal commodities. Conversely, the changes in the consumption of meat have been as a result of consumers taste and preference. The attitude towards the consumption of meat by the consumers has initiated the negative effects on meat consumption. The producer also plays an important role in determining the consumption levels of meat, not by increased quantity and quality as expected but controversially his attitudes. If the producer is positive about meat then he will remove the components of meat that result to health issues and thus reducing the nutritional quality of the meat an aspect that would prompt consumption
Consumers make a decision on what to buy and when to buy it according to their ability, preference among many other determinants. Several options are made available by the producers and differentiated in a manner to create different attractions to different consumers. The differentiation might not result in any differences in the quality of the substitutes as most producers only change the branding, packaging. The production of meat in UK is actually differentiated by the type of meat sold. Several options are available of which beef and horse meat are just examples. The quality of meat in terms of nutritional value between these two types is almost the same, with both producing proteins to the body. Britons have that aspect of preferring beef to horse meat and these makes their consumption of beef to be relatively higher than that of horse meat despite the fact that meat consumption levels are generally low. The reasons attributed to these relatively low consumption of horse meat as mentioned earlier mostly occur due to the way consumers view the product and are not in any way related to the nutritional value
Horse meat consumption has not been incorporated in the European culture. It only evolved as the last resort during the famine that stroke the world in the nineteenth century. During this season the European governments licensed the selling of horses in butcheries. Europeans only accepted to purchase horse meat since it was the only available meat with scarce supply of meat from other animals. After the economy resumed from famine the selling of horse meat continued but the predetermined culture against horse meat prevailed an aspect that lowered the level of horse meat consumption.
Britons have the feeling that horses are pets, with majority of the citizens assuming that they contain some extra qualities. Individuals believe that any animal that is referred to as a pet should not be consumed. Moreover, in history and mostly during wars horses struggled a lot to save people. To many this aspect of saving lives places the horse very close to human beings and thus it sounds unfair to consume a horse. Furthermore an horse is a working animal that although its meat different from that of a donkey, many Britons still equate the two animals and thus consuming an horse is similar to the consumption of a donkey which is viewed as a taboo in their culture.
As much as we say that horse consumption is discouraged by culture in UK, it’s very certain that these cultures are common in the European countries. Therefore the effect should be uniform in the European countries this was the only issue. However the consumption of beef has been associated with some egoism among the Britons a fact that makes beef being preferred to horse. The Britons associate themselves with a higher class that of taking beef as compared to the less fortunate individuals from France who consume horse meat.
In addition to the consumer preference the place of purchase is also another consideration made by a consumer before the purchase is made. The location of many butchers that produce beef has improved its daily consumption. Most beef products are available in stores especially in Harrods enterprise which is located on Brampton road that is a place that is readily accessible by many clients. More over Harrods has built its name in producing quality goods and of recent tried to divide its market according to the tastes and preferences of customers. On the other hand Tesco specializes in advocating for consumption of horse meat, these have really reduced its sales as the culture prohibits it. The inclusion of horse meat in burgers and other meat products has made consumers to be suspicious and thus adversely reducing their sales.
There are different visual aspects that consumers prefer when they are purchasing the meat product. In different markets, meat products are displayed in a manner that the consumer is able to derive visual aspect that can help them to identify the preferred choice of the meat. In United Kingdom, there has been a scandal involving presence of the horse meat in the market. Consumers in the market were therefore astonished with this scandal knowing that they have been consuming unwanted materials in the meat products. It is due to this reason that the consumers have become more attentive in the market place by looking the visual aspect of the product offered.
Various visual aspects in the meat products include the fat content of the meat, appearance factor, texture and consistency and color. On the fat content issue, the visible fat in the meat affect the consumption behavior of the consumer. The amount of the visible fat in the meat is substantial visual factor that influences the consumer. Some of the consumers prefers high content of visible fat while others consumer low or minimum content of fat in meat. Therefore, consumers will prefer the meat, either horsemeat or beef that has the favorable amount of visual fat.
The appearance factors greatly influence how consumers pick out meat quality and the purchasing behavior in the meat market. Consumers tend to observe the way meat looks, regardless of the meat quality such as carcass or the boneless meat. This assists the consumer in the subjective evaluation of the meat as they make the purchasing decisions. The skilled consumers are able to grade the quality of meat by evaluating the volume and the size of the muscular tissues. For instance, in many cases, beef meat comes with low volume of the muscular tissues than the horse meat. Other unfavorable aspect that may be observed on the meat is the unclean surfaces of the meat, too wet or too dry meat surface, or the blood spatter on the muscle tissues. These are among the factors that might discourage the buyer from buying or consuming such kind of meat or any other meat product.
Color is another visual aspect that most consumers put into consideration when they are making the purchasing decisions. In most cases, and in normal circumstances, the color of meat is identified as red, and sometimes it may differ from slight red to bright red. In some instances, pink, brown and grey color may also prevail. Most of the consumers do not prefer meat that does not show color red. Different animals produce meat with different colors. For instance, a fresh beef is usually identified with its dark red color. This is because meat in the presence of oxygen in then air turns to dark red, but varies with the type of the animal.
Texture and consistency is another visual factor that influences the purchasing decision in the market meat. Meat texture and consistency is referred to as tenderness and juiciness. The beef meat should be tender and juicy in order to fall under the presence of the consumer. In most cases, the texture and consistency of the beef and horse meat is almost the same and it would be difficult for a consumer to distinguish between this two types of meat. Despite the fact that the consumers observe the visual aspect of the meat, they also read the content in the product labels to determine the type of meat used in manufacturing such product.
Consumption decisions are made depending on the cultural, religious and family relationships. There arise some instances where a particular culture consumes certain products. In the case of beef versus beef, culture of the community is considered where individual might be barred from consuming one type of meat hence the demand for the other type in the market. In such markets, people will tend to consume ne type of meat thus consumption will not be leveled. Moreover, religious beliefs play a part in consumption whereby people choose what to consume depending on their religious beliefs. Some religion consider consumption of horsemeat as immoral whereas some think that is allowed hence there will exist different levels of interest in consumption of these products.
Consumption decisions by individuals are based on behavior observations of the particular individual. Consumption behaviors are derived from the self interest of individuals towards particular goods and services. Moreover, the consumers use their decisions to communicate their interest to themselves and others, therefore, the consumption decisions are used to explain identity and explain a variety of products to others (Salwen & Kelvin). To achieve this, there is need to autonomously determine what product to consume between horsemeat and beef such that the decision by the consumer is independent rather than induced.
Price is another issue taken into consideration when deciding what to consume. Many times the consumers will choose what is affordable to them. In this context, the decisions to consume either beef or horsemeat are based on the purchasing power of the consumer. This directly implies that people with low income will tend to purchase the commodity that is less priced as compared to the other substitute. In addition, consumers analyze the company practices as far as customer relations and practices are at par with their moral and ethical values. They choose the products that align to the values and their level of moral alignment and how the company communicates the measures to improve CSR to each of the concerned groups. High income earners like the UK will consume more than a low income earner in India.
Consumers consider consuming products depending on the information available to them. Many people research about a product before making a purchase hence the amount f information available will decide the reaction of the consumers. The product with high publicity attracts the attention of more customers since the information is easily passed among the customers. Consequently, the choice between beef and horse meat depend on the marketing tools employed by the managers. This is because advertisements enhance the flow f information about a brand; its important attributes and benefits.
At times, consumers may become indifferent on what to buy and not to buy. The situation arises when there is perfect information on all the meat brands available in the market. At such times, the consumer employs his or her own decision through personal conviction about the product. This is when product promotion measures are effective in achieving a change in consumption behavior. More advertising on beef means that customers will be swayed towards consuming beef products hence the horse meat will record low purchases. Media houses are effective in dissemination of information where local people have little r no knowledge about a product. As such, the consumer will rely on the use of the media to decide what to take.
Fornell, Claes. The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Print
Jaffrelot, Christophe, and Peter . Veer. Patterns of Middle Class Consumption in India. New Delhi, IN: Sage, 2008. Internet resource
Littler, Jo. Radical Consumption: Shopping for Change in Contemporary Culture. Berkshire: Open University Press, 2009. Internet resource
Ratneshwar, S, David G. Mick, and Cynthia Huffman. The Why of Consumption: Contemporary Perspectives on Consumer Motives, Goals, and Desires. London: Routledge, 2003. Internet resource.
Saad, Gad. The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption. Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates, 2007. Print.
Salwen, Kevin, and Hannah Salwen. The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back. Boston [Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. Print.
Slottje, Daniel J. Quantifying Consumer Preferences. Bingley: Emerald, 2009. Print.