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Consumers' perceptions toward 3 different fermented dairy products: Insights from focus groups, word association, and projective mapping

Esmerino, Erick A., Ferraz, Juliana P., Filho, Elson R. Tavares, Pinto, Letícia P.F., Freitas, Mônica Q., Cruz, Adriano G., Bolini, Helena M.A.
Journal of dairy science 2017 v.100 no.11 pp. 8849-8860
beverages, business enterprises, consumer attitudes, consumer preferences, dissociation, focus groups, guidelines, interviews, marketing strategies, qualitative analysis, subsidies, yogurt
Yogurts, fermented milk beverages, and fermented milks have great similarity and are widely accepted by Brazilian population, but the factors that influence their choice and consumption are unknown. In this sense, the present study aimed to identify the main aspects involved in consumers' perception of 3 different products, comparing the findings by using the 2 fast qualitative methods, word association and projective mapping, and a standard method, focus group. The tasks were performed by different participants through graphic stimuli (word association and projective mapping) and focus interviews (focus group). Results showed that all the 3 methodologies identified numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influence the consumer choices regarding fermented dairy products. Major dimensions were closely related to the sensory aspects, emotional factors, perception of benefits, and composition, among others. It is noteworthy that the stimuli related to fermented milk beverages evoked rejecting responses, possibly due to the dissociation between information and consumers' expectation. Although minor differences were observed between the number and type of dimensions that were obtained, similar conclusions can be drawn from all 3 sensory methods, which shows the relevance of qualitative and projective methods for investigation of consumers' perception. These findings can help dairy companies to provide subsidies and guidelines for the reformulation of their products, marketing strategies, and improvement in the communication between producers and consumers from different fermented dairy products.