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The influence of sensory and packaging cues on both liking and emotional, abstract and functional conceptualisations

Ng, M., Chaya, C., Hort, J.
Food quality and preference 2013 v.29 no.2 pp. 146-156
black currants, consumer preferences, emotions, experimental design, packaging, sensory properties, squashes
Thomson et al. (2010) have argued that the key to unlocking the mystery of consumer choice is to assess and measure the ‘meanings’ consumers attach in their minds to the product, which can be referred to as conceptualisations. Conceptualisations can be reduced to three broad categories: emotional, abstract and functional (Thomson et al., 2010). However, little data is available to understand how sensory attributes and packaging cues of a product evoke conceptualisations. The objectives of this study were to: (i) derive emotional, abstract and functional conceptualisation lexicons for a commercial product category; (ii) measure how these conceptualisations, and liking, change across blind, package and informed conditions; (iii) test the hypothesis that abstract/functional conceptualisations are more strongly associated with extrinsic product cues; and, finally (iv) explore the effect of package derived conceptualisations on liking and conceptualisations scores derived from product consumption experience. A lexicon to describe the conceptualisations associated with commercial blackcurrant squash was developed by consumers (n=29). A larger group of consumers (n=100) were then asked to assess their conceptual response to eleven squashes under three conditions: blind, pack and informed using Check-All-That-Apply (CATA). The findings of the study revealed that intrinsic product characteristics have more association with emotions whereas extrinsic product characteristics were more associated with abstract/functional conceptualizations. In addition, the results of the study also showed how package derived conceptualisations influenced the liking score and conceptualisations frequencies between blind and informed conditions in a small number of products. However, a more systematic experimental design is needed to further investigate the hypotheses that follow from the results obtained in this study.