When a consumer is making up their mind whether or not to buy a product they are not guided by its taste alone. A number of extrinsic factors also vie for their attention, such as awareness of the brand, labelling, price and origin. For a marketers, it is vital to understand how the different triggers that can lead target consumers towards the check out.
Authors of the new study Simone Mueller and Gergely Szolnoki said that little is know about the relative impact of the various extrinsic cues on informed product evaluation. They set out to investigate this, and how strongly consumers differ in their responsiveness. Their findings could help marketers develop more targeted strategies for product launches.
For the study, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Food Quality and Preference, Mueller and Sziolnoki recruited 521 wine drinkers in three German cities. The participants first ranked their liking of white wines in a blind tasting, then evaluated different elements of product: region of origin, grape variety, brand, and packaging style.
Wine was chosen as a good model because there is a keen interplay between intrinsic sensory characteristics and extrinsic attributes.
Overall label style and brand evaluation were seen to be the most important elements, followed by liking in the blind tests.
However not all consumer groups responded to the cues in the same way.
Younger consumers, deemed to be less experienced, used a mix of cues, whereas consumers more experienced with drinking wine tended to base their decisions on grape variety and liking.
The oldest consumers tended to be most swayed by brand and packaging. The researchers suggest that this may have been because they have had longer to form evaluation heuristics.
The researchers introduced the issue of price only after the tasting and other cues had been evaluated. They found that product quality and taste preferences swayed purchase intent on one hand, economic constraints on the other.
The model might be applied to other products.
Mueller and Szolnoki concluded: “Our approach could be useful for products with less sensory fatigue for which a larger number of samples can be evaluated in blind and informed conditions, also reducing the potential bias from presenting identical stimuli.
“A larger test design also reduces the risk that respondents might become aware of the manipulation of evaluating the same sensory stimulus in different informed conditions.”
Some drawbacks to the design were also flagged.
“Although we aimed to include a large number of the most important extrinsic wine attributes into the experimental design, the relative effect of other cues such as closure, health claims or alcohol level still has to be explored in future research.”
Food Quality and Preference
"The relative influence of packaging, labelling, branding and sensory attributes on liking and purchase intent: consumers differ in their responsiveness"
Authors: Simone Mueller and Gergely Szolnoki