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The effect of consumption context on consumer hedonics, emotional response and beer choice

Nijman, Marit, James, Sue, Dehrmann, Frieda, Smart, Katherine, Ford, Rebecca, Hort, Joanne
Food quality and preference 2019 v.74 pp. 59-71
beers, consumer attitudes, data collection, sensory evaluation
The context of a consumer test affects participant response. Data collected in a sensory laboratory is likely to have little predictive value of consumer experience in real-life situations. This study determined the effects of context on consumer response to two commercial beers. Regular beer consumers (n = 100) rated liking and emotional response using ten beer-specific emotion categories for two beers (Lager and Ale) under three different conditions: (1) a sensory testing facility (Lab), (2) a natural consumption environment (Bar) and (3) using an evoked context (Evoked). Their choice of product to take home was also recorded. Overall results showed significant product differentiation for liking (F (99, 2, 1) = 8.46, p = 0.004) and product choice (Q (1, N = 100) = 4.85, p = 0.028) in the Bar but not in the Lab or Evoked context. Emotional variables highlighted significant product differentiation (p < 0.05) but more so in the Bar than in the Lab or Evoked context. However, clustering participants on liking revealed three distinct clusters differing in sensitivity to context. Two clusters showed opposing but consistent preference for one of the two products regardless of context. The third cluster was more influenced by context, showing a more discriminating response in the Bar. These findings showed that consumers differ in their degree of context-sensitivity and the extent to which evoking a context gives similar results to a real environment. They also highlighted the importance of segmentation and confirmed the added insights gained by measuring emotional response compared to liking.