A Feminist perspective on the Food and Gender based Marketing narrative

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Published Sep 14, 2021
Shreshtha Chhabra
Dr Leena N Fukey Varynia Wankhar


Nutrition to the body is a basic element for sustenance and growth biologically, provided through food. This paper aims to understand why there is a difference between foods that are marketed gender-specifically to males and females separately.
Since connection between the labourer and the fruits of labour have changed over the past century [1], there is evident change in the household kitchen contribution too, over the years. As people become more health conscious, the purchase behaviour has shifted to more organic and healthy sourced ingredients. Purchase is also driven by sensitisation toward the labourer in process, sustainable method of production and quality ingredients. Through all these changes, one thing that survives the sands of time is the gender based food marketing that has been able to adapt itself and be applicable even today.
Some challenges that proved to be limitations, which can also be used as potential areas in future are the inclusion of the transgender perspective on this. Since the transgender community hasn't been given equal opportunities as binary genders, seeking their opinions might seem needless. This is because brands have not targeted products and/or services, especially food for this market segment in India. Therefore as social awareness increases through the years, research from a new perspective can benefit the society as well as the industry. The Transgender theory understands the lived experiences of non-binary individuals and emphasises the importance of physical embodiment in the society [2].
Following a thematic approach, this paper focuses on understanding themes and patterns related to behaviours of executing certain methods of market deployment [3]. The deductive approach assess an integral part of the transaction process between marketers, consumers and each of the genders targeted [4]. Practicing qualitative research will help broaden understanding of the social world by highlighting the reason for certain behavioural patterns. This study follows a bibliometric method of review, analysing data through of similar genres to track the trajectory of food and gender based marketing across years [5]. The papers studied under the literature review belong to the Scopus Indexed Journals like Taylor & Francis, British Food Journal, Emerald, to name few.
Categorically divided, this paper studies food and gender based marketing under relevant themes. The themes chosen have been guided by the literature review studied from past papers and the need to study under sub themes to achieve accurate results. (i) Nutritive value aims to understand how each gender values the nutrition levels of a food (packaged or presented) before purchasing or consuming it. (ii) Aesthetic quotient refers to the eye appeal that attract each gender and how factors like colour, composition, portion size and presentation influence each gender's purchase decision [6]. (iii) Food knowledge aims to understand the awareness about food and its aspects from the purchase of ingredients, cooking skills, cleaning up after a meal and related decisions. (iv) Dieting and body image theme focuses on the impact 'staying in shape' has on the buying decision and how marketers target genders separately [7]. The paper aims to understand gender sensitisation and the inclusivity aspect that organisations should ideally practice to towards a buyer's purchase behaviour. All the above mentioned themes aim to find answers from the marketing experts, professionals and researchers regarding the understanding about this patterned method of target marketing under each theme.
The scientific literature present finds behavioural patterns and preferences from the consumers' perspective. Studies done on various demographical swatches understand food on the basis of age, cooking skill, media influence, etc. giving us information about generic food choices of each population segment. This paper brings a professional view point from the industry's perspective that answers the questions about the industry's understanding of marketing food specifically to each gender separately. This research also aims to achieve a sense of inclusivity by focusing on SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) 5 to achieve gender equality, empower women and girls by bringing to stage the easily unnoticed that has created a patterned behaviour in suppliers and consumers [8].
The bigger picture/vision is to bring to notice the actions that go easily unnoticeable by the public and the industry. To alter this patterned behavioural method through introspection and to create a change in individuals is the aim of this paper.
The objectives of the paper are to understand the conceptual base behind gender based food marketing, suggest sustainable methods of food marketing that do not influence gender specific purchase and promote inclusivity.
All in all, finding reasons behind specific marketing strategies for each gender, can help in understanding why the industry has been following these concepts from the beginning and how that impacts the buying behaviour and society at large. This paper aims to make a difference and make marketers think about their actions and find a more sustainable and inclusive approach for food marketing for the firms of this industry.
The aim is also to shed light on the impact of such practices on the psychological level of the individual buyer that stems to form a pattern, creating a reoccurring practice out of habit, over internal choice.

How to Cite

Shreshtha Chhabra, Leena N Fukey, & Varynia Wankhar. (2021). A Feminist perspective on the Food and Gender based Marketing narrative. SPAST Abstracts, 1(01). Retrieved from https://spast.org/techrep/article/view/261
Abstract 4 |

Article Details


Gender sensitisation, Aesthetic quotient, Nutritive value, Inclusivity, Gender equality

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SF1: Societies, Sustainability, Food and Agriculture