Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Discounted Obesity – How food apps might encourage mindless eating and increasing obesity!

Author: Anirudh Tulsiram, Bangalore

"How about adding that extra fries and coke for just Rs.80?"

We often see combo offers like these that make it irresistible for us while ordering food on online food delivery applications. These applications have done well in the department of saving time and giving us the convenience of getting food at the click of a button.

These applications have also given the consumer the liberty of choosing dishes based on mood and not restrict the platter to what one restaurant can cater. 

While all the above mentioned benefits seem like a no brainer to the average consumer, they often discount the shift in behaviour when it comes to eating food.

Photo Credits: TeekTalks.com

I clearly remember the excitement, as a kid, when I was ordered pizzas from on the website. The whole experience of anticipating the pizzas to appear like the ones I saw online, to the delivery person ringing the bell and me paying the exact change (courtesy my mother) was unbelievable. 

The ordering of pizza was a luxury and the prices of the pizza were high! I particularly liked pizza while my dad, mom and baby sister were still getting used to eating something other than regular rice and curry. 

Photo Credits: KitchenTreaty.com

Fast track to the year 2016 ish, most of the in-store experiences started to become app based. Be it groceries, medicines, spectacles even transport (doesn't come under in-store experiences) could be availed from your mobile phone with a few clicks.

Change in consumer behaviour and the comfort these applications gave the consumers were evident. Many companies offered their products to be ordered from their own website, slowly moving to a few aggregators taking over the application space to further applications becoming the new normal.

Most of these aggregators were/are funded and have deep pockets. They have products that can be offered at a far lesser price than the retail business can manage. 

Thus understanding the food aggregators and what they might be doing to the general population gets interesting. 

Photo Credits: Mashable.com

The common knowledge of building products is to induce the 'hook' mechanism. This helps the consumers keep using the product often. All social media platforms use this 'hook' mechanism to keep consumers continue using the product. 

This is very similar to what the food aggregators have done incredibly well with notifications and discounting the bill with promotional codes. 

Nowadays, consumers regularly order food online. It could be when they are bored, at irregular hours (late nights) or even over weekends. Families have reduced visits to their favourite restaurants on weekends. Ordering online is not online the new trend, it's the one to stay.

Having ordered a few dozen times myself from these food delivery applications, I have often realized that I tend to over order or order what I don't need. This happens because of the slight nudge that due to promo codes or discount coupons. 

Photo Credits: FreeClues.com

What happens next is amazing - I eat everything that I have ordered! That's the underlying problem. It's got to do with two things:
  • Constantly being told to not waste food while growing up.
  • Mindless eating.

The change of focus lies in between the time of ordering and the delivery time. Either our rationality goes flying out the window when we see the food or we just consume to ensure we don't waste.

I have also observed, this does not happen when we order in excess at a restaurant. We politely ask the staff to pack the extra food and bring it home, only to consume it for our next meal.

I am no behaviour expert, but I think this restaurant behaviour is often the result of trying not to be judged by the people sitting beside us for either disrespecting food or being ignorant and not finishing our food.

Overall, I see myself and a few others doing displaying this behaviour constantly. Ordering extra food because the value of the offer exceeds the quantity that could be consumed i.e., getting more quantity/extra food for proportionately lesser money.

Example: 1 Idly and 1 Vada at 19 rupees. I ordered 2 of those. For someone who does not have anything in the morning generally, I overate. So did my friend - 'Discounted Obesity'

Considering there are much more concerning issues that could be written about the whole food delivery aggregators, we cannot discount the 'Discounted Obesity' that will happen to the urban population soon. 

Photo Credits: Phys.org

So the question really is:
While food delivery applications provide us with the ease and convenience of ordering food wherever and whenever we want, are they a reason behind mindless eating among us hence leading to the larger crisis of 'Discounted Obesity'? And what in your opinion can be a solution?

Comment below if you have thought about the above and share your opinions with us!

1 comment:

  1. Am a regular food delivery order person. I understand your point. But it is up to us to be mindful of our own eating habits. I do order more sometimes to avail discounts and offers, but I keep the extra aside and have it for my next meal. I feel that food delivery apps has given us lots of freedom, time and money saving options. Its upto us how we are going to utilize that freedom - in a mindful way or not mindful way. Either way, the problem is not with online food ordering. It is with the consumer to change his eating habits. Just my POV :). What do you think?

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