New research published in Food Quality and Preference suggests that a better understanding of the interplay between emotions generated from sensory experiences and emotions elicited by brands and product packaging could help industry to design and optimise foods in a better way.
Led by Sara Spinelli from SemioSensory Research & Consulting, the new study investigated how consumer liking changes across blind, packaged (expected) and informed conditions, and measured how emotions change across blind and informed conditions.
“These findings suggest that brand and packaging both contribute to increase liking and are potentially powerful elicitors of emotions, but only if this communication is perceived as coherent with the expectations,” revealed the team. “In cases of mismatch between what was communicated and what was experienced, informed liking confirmed the blind rating but positive emotions tended to decrease.”
Spinelli and her colleagues said the study findings suggest the importance of collecting emotional responses in both blind and informed conditions to detect changes in the emotional profile of products due to the brand/packaging, and provides information useful for product optimisation.
The team recruited 120 participants who tasted a variety of hazelnut and cocoa spread products in a blind condition. After this, the participants expressed their liking and rated emotions using the EmoSemio questionnaire specifically developed for this product category.
The consumers were then asked to rate their expected liking for the products, presented in the original packaging by means of photos (pack/expected condition).
After one week, consumers tasted each product presented with its own packaging (informed condition), before expressing their liking and rated emotions.
“Emotions were very discriminating in both conditions: in the informed condition all the emotions significantly varied across samples, while in the blind condition 21 out of 23 (91,3%) varied,” said the authors.
They said that such results show a correlation between liking (blind, expected and informed) and emotions.
The team said that their results were in line with previous studies that showed that the packaging played a secondary role when compared to the sensory attributes of the product.
However, they noted that when there was a mismatch between expected liking evoked by packaging and blind liking, some positive emotions significantly decreased, “demonstrating a worsening of the emotional performance of the products.”
“This happened both in the case when the product was expected to be liked more or when it was expected to be liked less than in the blind condition.”
Indeed, they said that these two situations, informed liking did not significantly differ from the blind one, “but some positive emotions were significantly less intense in the informed condition than in the blind condition.”
Source: Food Quality and Preference
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2014.12.009
“Emotional responses to branded and unbranded foods”
Authors: S. Spinelli, et al