A study of Buyers' and Sellers' Perception of Organic Foods in Pakistan: Towards a More Effective Marketing Mix

Sara Khan1
1Institute of Business Administration, Karachi

Abstract: Issues of food safety, nutritional value as well as environmental and ecological damage as a result of agricultural abuse have acquired global significance. Many people are looking for equitable, less cruel and sustainable answers to these problems. Organic foods / products are one such solution to people's food and agricultural needs. Looking at the viewpoints of both consumers (including prospective consumers) and producers, this research undertakes to study the marketing mix of the organic foods / products market in Pakistan and explores marketing solutions to enhance its development (research objective). Using qualitative interviews and thematic analysis, respondents' answers are coded and analyzed to put forward their opinions and recommendations for strengthening the marketing of the aforesaid products. The theme of the paper is marketing mix, with product, price, place, promotion and packaging being the relevant categories.

It was seen that almost all respondents considered chemical-free clean foods, more healthy, nutritious and tasty. Some purchased specifically organic foods for the purpose, some whatever clean and safe solutions (whether organic or not) they could conveniently find and some, though aware, were not involved enough to look for more healthy, safer or cleaner options than what they were already consuming. Price and availability were cited as the main reasons that deterred people from buying organic foods / products. However, many producers and even a few customers felt organic products were locked up in the narrow positioning of 'rich man's health foods.' Hence there was a need to promote them more 'holistically' from the point of view of ecological and environmental safety, as well as more humane and sustainable alternatives to conventional agricultural produce. Responsibility for this needed to be shouldered by all stakeholders - consumers, producers, doctors, environmental and animal right activists and governmental agencies.

The purpose of the research is to present stakeholders of the organic foods market in Pakistan with an informed marketing perspective in order to facilitate them to take more effective decisions. A contribution of this paper thus lies in providing marketing knowledge and recommendations for the organic foods / products' market in the country.

Keywords: organic products, marketing mix, qualitative
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