New Zealand Muslim consumer attitudes towards purchasing Halal foods
Alhazmi, Hussam Khalid H.
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Muslim consumers purchase halal foods as a way of maintaining observance of religious teachings and from personal preferences. Consumption of halal products shows a person’s commitment to the Islamic faith and its teachings. This study however recognizes that declaring the intention to purchase halal foods based on this commitment is not a guarantee one will purchase and consume halal. Purchase and consumption is a result of personal perceptions of halal foods. New Zealand is home to approximately 41,000 Muslims who form the internal halal market as opposed to the export halal market. The purpose of this study is to explore the attitudes and perceptions of Muslim consumers in New Zealand toward purchase of halal foods. The study sought to determine whether attitudes and perceptions toward halal foods play a significant role in purchase or whether religion is the overriding factor. The study followed a mixed methods approach using qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. The qualitative data collection technique was three focus group discussions, with a sample of 15 men aged 20 years and over. The participants came from Auckland, Wellington, and Dunedin, which are three cities with large Muslim populations. The quantitative technique was survey with a sample of 80 male and female aged 20 years and over from the three cities mentioned Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin. Data analysis was completed using two computer software, NVIVO for qualitative data and SPSS for quantitative data. The research findings show factors that affect consumer attitudes and perceptions toward the purchase of halal food products, namely religious commitment and social pressure. Other important factors are the need to please Allah, getting approval from family and personal choice. Religious commitment and social pressure emerged as the overriding factors, with almost equal importance. The study also tested awareness and perception of halal food regulation showing that consumers belief halal products in New Zealand are halal, although a gap exists in behaviour of internal halal regulation compared to regulation of foods produced for the export market. From the findings, it is concluded that consumer attitudes and perceptions toward halal foods affect their purchase behavior and consumption. However, the study shows the need to understand in greater depth the role of religion versus social pressure. The study shows an almost equal level of importance but does not provide a clear distinction of which factor carries more impact on consumer behavior. Therefore, the study recommends a need for more research comparing these two factors. The findings have implications for marketing practice especially because the Muslim population is targeted to continue growing, which will create a larger halal market in New Zealand. The study provides elements that markets need to consider when promoting purchase of halal foods. These elements are food safety, endorsement from FIANZ, and consumer knowledge of the internal halal market and its regulation. To influence consumers, marketers need to understand the roles played by social pressure religious commitment, and the interplay with other elements including a need to commit to family beliefs, awareness of food regulation, and beliefs about food.