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Using immersive technologies to explore the effects of congruent and incongruent contextual cues on context recall, product evaluation time, and preference and liking during consumer hedonic testing

Liu, Rebecca, Hannum, Mackenzie, Simons, Christopher T.
Food research international 2019 v.117 pp. 19-29
cleaning agents, coffee (beverage), cold, consumer behavior, detergents, hedonic scales, laundry, laundry products, odors, product evaluation
To explore how contextual information streams are processed and prioritized during consumer studies, we manipulated the congruency of visual, auditory and olfactory cues using immersive technologies and assessed the impact on context recall, evaluation time, and preference and liking for cold brewed coffee. Each consumer (n = 50) was exposed to two identical control conditions, a visually incongruent condition, an auditory incongruent condition, an olfactory incongruent condition, and an all-incongruent condition. The control condition simulated a coffeehouse environment complete with the sights, sounds and smells commonly experienced in that venue. A laboratory setting, construction noise, and laundry detergent represented the individual incongruent visual, auditory, and aroma streams, respectively. Results revealed that olfactory information had a lesser priority than visual or auditory information in the simulated environments when assessed by subject's ability to recall encountered information streams. Panelists also spent more time evaluating coffees in the first presented control condition compared to the incongruent conditions or the repeated control condition. Finally, although the averaged combined liking score for subjects' least to most preferred coffees was significantly lowered in the all-incongruent condition compared to the control condition, this decrease was not substantial. Understanding how the saliency of contextual information influences consumer behavior and attention can inform immersive testing methodologies.