The Effects of Religion and Culture on Consumer Behavior
Religion and Culture play an important role in influencing consumer
behaviour in relation to food intake
“Human beings are not born with a set of behaviour, they have to learn
it. What they learn is dictated by the culture into which they are
born or within which they grow up” – J Bareham (1995)
Culture makes us similar to some people but different to the vast
majority. It is learnt as a person grows up within society and can be
either taught or imitated. Formal instruction comes from parents but
a person also learns by imitating peers and persons in the media.
Culture compromises of many aspects such as Language, Politics,
everyday food habits and Religion with considerable variation across
the world, for example in China, which is predominantly Buddhist, it
is acceptable to eat Dog but not Beef, as Cows are considered sacred.
“People in Western society find it difficult to understand that the
Chinese eat dogs, because dogs remind them of people and as such are
treated as pets and objects of affection.” – J Bareham (1995)
Religion is a large and intertwined part of culture and often with
religions such as Judaism, the defining feature of a culture.
Religious dietary practise can serve a number of purposes including
contact with supernatural forces, sacrifices to the Gods to
demonstrate faith and fasting to show rejection of worldliness.
Religious dietary practise also enhances identity and belonging, and
differentiates between other religions. For example Sikhs cannot eat
Halal or Kosher meat as they do not believe in the practise of ritual
sacrifice therefore differentiating them from Jews and Muslims.
“There is nothing impure in food and drink; all sustenance is the gift
of God” – Gurn Nanak (Founder of Sikhism)
Food habits in relation to culture and religion are amongst the oldest
and deeply rooted aspects of a society with many variations
worldwide. There are many similarities but yet many differences
across all cultures and religions, for example both Jews and Muslims
must not eat Pork or consume Blood, but in contrast a Muslim may eat
shell-fish whereas a Jew cannot. Another contrast can be seen in the
Hindu religion where orthodox followers are forbidden to consume any
meat at all.
“Having well considered the origin of flesh foods, and the cruelty of
fettering and slaying corporeal beings, let man entirely abstain from
eating flesh.” - The Manusmrti (5.49)
In the Hindu religion a strict Caste system is followed and dictates
who a person can eat with, who prepares a persons food, what sort of
food is prepared for someone and who food can be accepted from.
However for Hindu followers living in a western society it is not
always possible to adhere to. ...