But packaging and labeling are not as important for winning over consumers, according to findings published in the journal Food Quality and Preference.
The study involved consumers at different stages of development and highlights the importance of adopting a “sensory marketing approach,” said the researchers from French research organisation Adriant, the University of Rennes 1, Danone R&D, and Institut Paul Bocuse.
“Companies need to continuously innovate to maintain market leadership,” wrote the researchers. “When the market is overloaded the challenge consists in creating innovative products able to attract and satisfy consumers.”
“This experiment showed the feasibility of the proposed multi-sensory design method based on mixed qualitative and quantitative approaches.”
The study also demonstrates the importance of flavor and color selection for new products.
The global flavors market was been valued at some US$18bn in 2006 (Business Insights). Meanwhile, the value of the international colorings market was estimated at around $1.15bn in 2007 (€731m), up 2.5 per cent from $1.07bn (680m) in 2004, according to Leatherhead Food International (LFI).
Natural colors now make up 31 per cent of the colorings market, compared with 40 per cent for synthetics, according to LFI.
Bombarding the senses
By choosing to formulate a new beverage, the researchers noted that the new product would need to be differentiated by improving the sensory characteristics.
Four factors were identified for the formulation: four color intensities), three flavorings, two label types (soft versus hard), and two pack sizes (standard versus oversize).
By using both quantitative (hedonic testing) and qualitative (focus groups) approaches, the researchers found that “the main factors which drive consumer preference for this concept are color intensity and flavoring”.
Indeed, color intensity accounted for 43 per cent and flavor 32 per cent of the consumers’ overall liking.
“Pack size and label type are taken into account by the consumer to a lesser extend,” they added.
“This methodology of a qualitative screening associated to a conjoint analysis on relevant sensory attributes has shown good performances to fit consumers’ expectation: it has now to be reproduced, as every brand, concept and product is a unique combination designed for a specific consumer group,” concluded the researchers
Source: Food Quality and PreferenceVolume 19, Issue 8, Pages 719-726“From sensory marketing to sensory design: How to drive formulation using consumers’ input?”Authors: C. Raz, D. Piper, R. Haller, H. Nicod, N. Dusart, A. Giboreau