Exploring the relationship between selected internal consumer behaviour variables and the emotional response to the sensory properties of chocolate
Sensory properties of food products are assumed to influence emotional product conceptualisations. However, this link requires further research, and consumer behaviour variables are generally not considered in emotional response studies. By showcasing the relationship between emotional response and sensory properties, it could assist in the development of products for target consumers, based on an understanding of the emotional signature of a product or category. Furthermore, by incorporating consumer behaviour, response and product adoption could be anticipated by better understanding consumers’ choices. Investigating and describing these relationships for a product such as chocolate, which is highly associated with emotion, can provide insight into the role of sensory properties and consumer behaviour in shaping emotional response. This study aimed to investigate and describe the relationship between the sensory properties of chocolate and the emotional response of consumers, and the impact of various internal consumer behaviour variables (mood, familiarity, acceptability and attitude) on this response. It will describe the emotional profile of chocolate, identify whether a relationship exists between various sensory properties and various emotions, and indicate how and to what extent these internal consumer behaviour variables influence this emotional response. A quantitative, descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted, implementing a standardised questionnaire to collect quantifiable data. The questionnaire was compiled by incorporating an existing mood scale, an attitude questionnaire, an acceptability scale, an EsSense25 emotion tool, a consumption frequency questionnaire and a sensory questionnaire which was developed based on a review of 13 chocolate studies. Consumers (n=149) were included in the study through non-probability purposive sampling. Exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory analysis and principal component analysis were conducted to determine whether relationships exist between the variables. While the intensity of the sensory attributes of chocolates studied varied greatly, emotional profiles were similar, however, the intensity differed. The relationship between the sensory properties and the emotional response indicated that bitter drives emotional response. The investigated consumer behaviour variables, however, also influenced emotional response. A positive mood resulted in a positive emotional response. A negative attitude towards the chocolate category resulted in negative correlations with positive emotions. Positive emotions were reported by respondents who consumed and were familiar with large chocolate formats. Chocolates with low acceptability are more likely to evoke negative emotions. Emotional response is thus related to both sensory properties of food and consumer behaviour. This study has descibed the product variables which were investigated (sensory attributes, emotion attributes, and the consumer behaviour variables namely mood, familiarity, acceptability and attitude), the relative importance of each and the relationship between them in a local context, to showcase that these variables are all interdependent, but that the factors of the variables also have a level of interdependency. The study generated the first data within the field of emo-sensory research in South Africa and has shown that integrated studies are viable and valuable.
- Health Sciences