This paper attempts to assess the impact of Orthodox Christians’ fasting on the demand for biscuits in Ethiopia, reviewing the fact that ‘Culture’, particularly religion, plays a crucial role in determining consumption patterns in developing countries. The first stage of research involved a review of literature which was conducted using desk research. The second stage include analysis of primary data secured through a survey of 81 consumers, 40 retailers, interviews with 15 religious leaders, and a jury of executive opinion technique with 6 marketing executives to assess the impact of Orthodox Christians’ fasting on demand for biscuits. The impact of Orthodox Christians’ fasting is quite pervasive in shaping consumption habits of church members in Ethiopia. Religious-culture here places a total taboo on the use of animal products during fasting. The demand for biscuits-for-fasts which do not use animal products such as milk and butter offers good opportunity to marketers. It was found that market demand for biscuits to be used during fasts, based on a meager per-capita consumption of 400 gram per person per year, totals 8200 tons per year. This bestows a good opportunity for marketers. This study reveals that the market, though attractive, is still under-served. Marketers of biscuits need to understand these socio-cultural aspects to be profitable in Ethiopia. However, in order to succeed, tension between orthodoxy and secularism needs to be well understood. The study is of benefit to the food industry in general and Orthodox Christians in particular, in Ethiopia. The study reveals religious factors affecting the demand for food consumed during fasts observed by the Orthodox Ethiopian Christians. The study reveals that the demand for biscuits-for-fasts is attractive for marketers; and identifies that religious tensions are a threat to marketing organizations, if unattended.
Key words: Consumer behavior, Orthodox Christians, religion, fasting, biscuits, marketing, Ethiopia.
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