Consumers ability to discern food quality under blind conditions


1- Marketing Sperimentale, CoRFiLaC, Ragusa, Italia
2- DISPA (Dipartimento Scienze Produzioni Agro-Alimentari), Università di Catania, Catania, Italia
3- Laboratorio Sensory, CoRFiLaC, Ragusa, Italia


Purpose: This study aims to investigate consumers ability to discern food product quality in absence of information compared to mass products. Design/methodology/approach: Milk types were selected in order to satisfy two dimensions: fat content and quality difference. Two experiments were run: in the first standardized or mass milks (Ultra-High-Temperature /UHT) were compared considering the fat dimension (3.5% vs 1.8%), whereas in the second experiment quality milks were compared according to quality attributes (Whole Fresh High Premium Quality Milk vs Raw Milk). In both experiments, consumers performed a triangle test and filled a computerized form indicating the odd milk, their preference, habits of consumption as well as demographic information.
Findings: Consumers both inability and ability to spot the odd milk was not affected by preference or consumption habits. Results showed that in absence of information consumers easily detected high quality products rather than standardized or mass products. In fact, between standardized (UHT milk types) 64% of participants did not spot correctly the odd milk (p<0.01) whereas, when quality milks were compared, 63 % of participants detected correctly the odd one (p<0.01).
Conclusion: What  affects consumers milk preference and attitude is quality, in absence of information as well as products awareness. Therefore, the sector needs to highlight quality characteristics in marketing strategies.

KEYWORDS: Milk, consumer behaviour, intrinsic quality, preferences, information

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Ricercatore Marketing