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JWT: Scientology of food

In a conversation, Bindu Sethi, chief strategy officer, India, JWT and Mythili Chandrasekar, senior vice-president and executive planning director, JWT share interesting insight on food and what drives the consumption of food, which is based on the findings of the study, Juniper, Wheat and Tabasco.

As rightly put, 'Food is the elixir of life' but what drives the choice of consumption? In a conversation, Bindu Sethi, chief strategy officer, JWT and Mythili Chandrasekar, senior vice-president and executive planning director, JWT share the three key emotions that drive all food choices, which is based on the finding of the research, 'Juniper, Wheat and Tabasco' - JWT's perspective on food.

Mythili Chandrasekar
Bindu Sethi

Chandrasekar started by talking about three main factors - drive for power, need for love and care and finally, search for pleasure as the main drivers behind eating habits. She further discussed each factor by breaking them into several mini-factors.

"The drive for power is further dominated by three main points - my body power, my mind power and my social power. The first factor, 'my body power', is mainly related to consumption of refreshments, nutrition such as energy bars and protein drinks. The second factor relates to mind power and mainly leads to eating of 'satvik' food or Ayurveda diet. And the last factor, which is about social power, is mainly driven by economic prosperity. The climbing of the social ladder has led to introduction of many kinds of food, which were earlier foreign to Indians such as pizzas or pastas, or for that matter branded juices or spices. People are selective about the brand of food they want to consume," said Chandrasekar.

Next, Sethi discussed the second key factor, 'need for love and care' which is made of four factors - my family album; my body, my health; my circle, my life; and my earth, my planet. Explaining the first factor, she stated that while earlier mothers cooked and fed food which led to development of the mind, in between, the Indian mother started cooking food that would develop both body and mind. And today's mother cooks for the spirit of nourishment. She wants whole growth for her child.

She also talked about how people are trying to balance what they eat. "There is both indulgence and caution when it comes to having food. At some point, one may indulge by eating a pastry but then she or he may prefer a light dinner consisting of soup and salad. This shows that while there is love for food, people also care for their bodies," explained Sethi.

According to Sethi, the third factor resembles social power, about having food that brings in a sense of achievement. For example, rather than having a Five Star of Rs 5, the consumer may prefer to eat a bar of Bourneville.

Sethi talked about the last factor, which shows how over a period of time people have been introduced to various cuisines and food from across the planet, which has further led to the development of many palettes, cooking or eating world food (various cuisines) with friends.

Chandraseker next emphasised on the last core factor, 'search for pleasure'. "The last core factor is made up of 'my sins, my romance and my creativity'. The role and purpose of food is very large and it has many effects. There is food for anxiety and then there is food that provides comfort. Interestingly, there is also food that signifies romance. The creation of food provides the window to play with it and create something new every day. For example, some eat ice-cream to beat sadness, and chocolate for pleasure."

At the end, both Sethi and Chandrasekar said that while certain roles of food have been talked about in Indian communication strategies, many still remain unearthed. The findings of the study will be further implemented on the food brands that are being managed by JWT and the interesting results will be shared by the respective brands.

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