Development of emotion lexicons to describe sugar-free chocolate according to consumers' taster status
Consumers’ emotional response has been connected to their sensory experience of sugared products, determining food preference. However, limited research has been conducted on how consumers’ different taster statuses influence their emotions when consuming sugar-free products, such as sugar-free chocolates. By showcasing the relationship between consumers’ taster status and emotional response, emotional lexicons can be developed that can assist in product development, ensuring that the needs of all consumers are met. Furthermore, incorporating consumers’ taster status will increase understanding of consumers’ taste sensitivity and product preferences. There is a gap in the literature on consumers’ PROP (6-n-propylthiouracil) sensitivity, as the assessment of taste sensitivity and sensory experiences related to products and sensory information has been avoided. This study aimed to develop emotional lexicons for sugar-free chocolates based on consumers’ taster status (non-, medium and supertasters) using the check-all-that-apply methodology. To reach this aim, five objectives guided this study: to determine consumers’ taster status; to determine consumers’ consumption, purchasing behaviour and acceptance of sugar-free chocolates; to determine emotional lexicons for sugar-free chocolate for consumers with different taster statuses; to determine the association between emotional lexicons and consumers’ taster status; and to describe the demographic characteristics of consumers. A quantitative non-experimental, descriptive and cross-sectional study was conducted using a self-administered electronic questionnaire to collect quantifiable data. South African adult consumers (N = 158) were included through a non-probability convenience sampling method with a set of inclusion and exclusion criteria. Descriptive analysis was performed for all variables, including means, frequencies and percentages. To assess if there is a significant association between consumers’ taster status, demographic characteristics of consumers and the selection of emotional terms, cross-tabulations with phi coefficient and Cramer’s V were performed. According to the results, most of the respondents consumed chocolate once a week and the primary reason for consumption was for emotional satisfaction (indulgence). The respondents indicated that they mainly purchased chocolate for its flavour. Overall, they enjoyed the sugar-free chocolates and showed a higher liking for the dark chocolate compared to the milk chocolate. Therefore, sugar-free chocolate with sweeteners can be enjoyed and consumed as a healthier alternative. The emotional lexicons were similar, although there were a few differences. While mostly positive emotions were selected, the lexicons revealed that the supertasters felt more negative emotions compared to the medium tasters and non-tasters. There was a practical significance of the association between non-tasters and the contented and guilty emotion for the milk chocolate as well as between supertasters and the discontented and disgusted emotion. These emotional lexicons will contribute to future research on the sensory acceptability of and behaviour with regard to chocolate and sugar-free products for the South African market.
- Health Sciences