Food retailing in Malaysia : a study of supermarket use in peninsular Malaysia
This study examines the extent and patterns of supermarket use in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia and the town of Alor Star, a small town in the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia. A total of 436 household heads were interviewed for the study. Although the supermarket was first introduced in Malaysia in 1964, the study revealed that the adoption of supermarkets among respondents was still low. Even in the high income residential areas, the percentage of respondents that could be classified as heavy users was less than 50%. However, the percentage of heavy users was found to be significantly higher in high and middle income residential areas than that of low income residential areas. The study also showed that there were different patterns of food shopping behaviour among respondents. Perishable food is commonly bought from wet-markets, staple food is normally purchased from neighbourhood grocery stores while processed food is mainly bought from supermarkets. Log-linear analysis showed that car-ownership has the strongest influence on the extent of supermarket use. Among the three major ethnic groups the Chinese were found to have the strongest tendency to patronize supermarkets. On the other hand the Malays were found to have the lowest tendency to become heavy supermarket users. The results of this study could be seen as useful, first, to supermarket operators in Malaysia in planning their marketing strategies. Consumer profiles associated with heavy supermarket users may be used as a basis for market segmentation. Secondly, it is useful to the government in its modernisation process of retail outlets, particularly in smaller towns, which should proceed slowly and with care. The urgent need of the food retail system today is the improvement and modernisation of the present wet-market system, where fresh food should be sold efficiently in a more hygienic environment.