“Real”: Current Insights into Consumer Attitudes and Perceptions

Thursday, October 27  •  1:50–2:50 p.m.
Capitol Ballroom

Moderators: Laura Jefferies, Brigham Young University, and Sarah Kirkmeyer, Givaudan Flavors

The trend of simplifying labels and listing only pantry-type ingredients is challenging nearly every aspect of the development process. As consumer and sensory researchers, it is critical to understand consumer perceptions and find the opportunities to deliver the best products. Significant business writing, blogs and news stories in the popular press have increased consumer awareness and perhaps misconceptions of ingredients, labels and claims. Consumer opinions are changing day to day as a result of these influences and researchers have a responsibility to bring objective evaluation and rigor to this topic, apply innovative research to anticipant demand, and translate insights into consumer relevant products. To bring this to life, leading industrial consumer and sensory researchers will provide their perspective using case studies and examples across a variety of consumer research approaches. This session will not focus on legislation or methodologies, rather insights that provide a snapshot in time in what we understand to foster thought provoking questions. 




Sarah V. Kirkmeyer, Givaudan Flavors Corp.

Sarah Kirkmeyer will provide an introduction to the session and set the stage via the literature , setting the stage via literature and personal perspective, introduction of the speakers and moderate the panel discussion will be provided.
Sarah Kirkmeyer leads the Consumer Sensory Insights team at Givaudan Flavors Corp. She has nearly 20 years of experience across food, cosmetics and beverage industries plus a Ph.D. from Rutgers University and an MBA from Miami University. She is active in both SSP and IFT, contributing to SSP SPAN and was recently elected to the IFT Board of Directors.

Judy Lindsey, Product Dynamics, a division of RQA, Inc.

Words are powerful. They can evoke emotions, set expectations, change perceptions and drive choice. This is very much the case when it comes to consumer emotions, expectations, perceptions and choice of food products. Qualitative research shows that consumers see words like “real”, “fresh”, “simple”, “natural”, etc. not only as reassurance but translate them into a visual and/or experiential product expectation. Perceived or real, their expectations impact product and package design. What product attributes/elements are most impacted by these words? During the workshop we will show how these words have set an expectation in the visual, textural and flavor attributes and even packaging design across several categories. We will challenge the audience to explore their expectations in additional categories and discuss what those expectations can mean to the developer in terms of ingredients, formulation, processing and packaging. The talk will conclude with a brief discussion on the joint expertise of the sensory scientist and product developer required to align words, consumers and products.
Judy Lindsey is the General Manager of Product Dynamics, a division of RQA, Inc. She has over 30 years of experience in the food industry focused on translating consumer response and sensory perception into successful food products. Judy has a BS degree in Food Science from Ohio State University and is active in the Research Chef Association and IFT, currently serving as Chair of the Sensory and Consumer Sciences Division.

Katie Marston, PepsicCo Global R&D

Although certain ingredients may not be classified as artificial from a regulatory standpoint, these ingredients still may not sound “real”. Consumer may be wary or uncomfortable with origin of these ingredients. During this workshop, we’ll share research exploring consumer perceptions of the same ingredient described in different ways. Familiar, simple ingredient names – such as foods that may be found in the kitchen pantry – were most often flagged as positive. Detracting ingredients tended to have more chemical-sounding names, also called out for being unfamiliar or unnatural. While some chemical names may detract from purchase decisions, clarifiers along with ingredients can increase consumer comprehension and acceptability.
Katie Marston is an Associate Principal Scientist, Sensory & Consumer product Insights at PepsiCo Global R&D. She has 9 years of experience in the food industry bringing a rich sensory background and a unique perspective from operations from early in her career. She holds both a MS and BS from Kansas State University.

Julia Tyrpin, Griffith Foods Inc.

Organic foods have been growing from niche products at specialty stores to mainstream items available at major retailers. 84% of consumers purchased organic foods in 2014 and organic products were 4% of food sales with $35 billion in sales in 2014. Solid growth is expected until 2018. So what drives consumers to pay a premium for organic foods? Qualitative research that addressed consumer behaviors and motivations behind buying organic foods was conducted. Consumers shared insights on their shopping habits, meal preparation and meat preferences. Some studies have shown that organic food, especially produce, is superior in flavor. Additional research will be conducted to explore this theory. A quantitative study is being conducted to compare an organic to a non-organic food for overall preference when presented blind and when labeled as organic and key insights presented.
Julia Tyrpin is a Senior Sensory Manager at Griffith Foods Inc. Her experience with Griffith and previous companies spans 20 years with a focus in both sensory and quality. She is an IFT Certified Food Scientist, completed the UC Davis Certificate Course and holds a BS from University of Illinois.

Greg Stucky, InsightsNow Inc.

Consumers are rapidly changing. Their attitudes, preferences, concerns, desires, and behavioral habits are regularly shifting. They are demanding change in the food industry – not only by supporting or avoiding brands and ingredients which fit with the change they seek – but by influencing others to join them. To address these changes, we must understand how to leverage consumer perceptions by designing products which contain the right subconscious cues and avoiding those cues which create avoidance behaviors. By doing so we both enhance the value of the products and the life of the consumer. From “GMO” to “Fresh” this presentation will provide some fun and honest examples of label cues and the perceptions they create.
Greg Stucky is the Chief Research Officer at InsightsNow. For over 20 years he has guided product innovation with the application of sensory perceptions to understand consumer behavior. His continues to build new methods for cue signals research, identifying cues which motivate specific behaviors leading to many successful new products and brands. Winner of the 2012 EXPLOR award for innovation in consumer research, his work has been featured in Harvard Business Review, The LA Times, ESOMAR World, and various industry publications.
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