India: Consumers' Changing Relationship with Cooking
It seems that traditional gender roles around food are changing in the sub-continent.
One of the highlights of my recent trip to India was sampling what is surely one of the world’s best-loved cuisines in its natural setting. As well as giving my taste buds a treat, the exercise should help me to judge, and thereby wax lyrical to my friends about, which of my local Indian restaurants offer truly authentic dishes, and which serve up ersatz fare that is more geared towards the jaded British palate. Yes, I will become even more of a globalisation bore. However far more interesting and relevant than the quality of my local takeout’s Bharwan Aloo, particularly for global food marketers, are the changes that are taking place in Indian kitchens, particularly with regard to who does the cooking and why.
Big news in India at the moment is that the nation’s favourite chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, is planning to launch a 24 hour satellite TV cooking channel this summer. That such a channel is being contemplated is acknowledged by Kapoor himself, quoted in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, as a reflection of Indian consumers’ changing relationship with cooking, as they see it less as a chore and more as an enjoyable leisure activity.
“Twenty years ago if you said you cooked, people would ask what was wrong with you. Now it is the opposite,” he says. “For the moment it's [just] the new middle class, but the beauty of India is that things spread very fast.” Even more interesting is the growing interest of men in the topic, with Kapoor also revealing that 49% of visitors to his website are male – a 20% increase on two years ago.
Apropos of the interest that Kapoor’s activities generate, one Indian market researcher is quoted as saying, “No one had any idea there were so many people interested in cooking as a hobby and as a creative art.” Roper Reports Worldwide data show that 40% of Indian consumers say they cook for fun at least once a month. What is particularly interesting however, and ties in with what Mr. Kapoor has found in his web traffic, is that the proportion of Indian men who claim to cook for fun monthly or more often has increased from 14% in 2007 to 24% in 2009.
All this suggests that, as in many Western markets, the culinary dynamics of Indian families are changing, with men becoming more and more interested and involved, and marketers in related categories should bear this in mind in their NPD and marketing communications. Oh, and if any of them are looking for a culinary-astute male to taste-test their latest Indian creations for the UK market, just send them my way…
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