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Consumer segmentation based on food neophobia and its application to product development

Food Quality and Preference
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2008.01.003
  • Psychographic
  • Neophobia
  • Food Neophobia Scale (Fns)
  • Product Development
  • Consumer Segmentation
  • Acceptability
  • Medicine


Abstract When evaluating the acceptability of food products, companies often focus on specific demographics for recruiting and screening consumers. However, this information may not necessarily explain the variability in the test results. Other elements, such as consumer psychographic profiles, may help better understand test participants’ responses. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of food neophobia (reluctance to/avoidance of novel foods) on acceptability of novel food items. Six salad dressings with novel flavor combinations were chosen for evaluation in a central location test. Consumers were screened using the food neophobia scale ( Pliner & Hobden, 1992) as well as liking of salad dressings. Each subject evaluated three of six dressings for hedonic and diagnostic attributes. Neophobic subjects rated the salad dressings significantly lower ( p < 0.05) than neophilics for all hedonic attributes with the exception of appearance. These results were consistent for all dressings. However, when looking at the hedonic mean scores from both groups, the products were ranked in similar order in that the best liked and least liked dressing for the neophilic group was the same as those for the neophobic group. For diagnostic attributes, while the mean scores were significantly different for neophobics and neophilics, the percentage of “just-about-right” scores did not differ. These results suggest that food neophobia may impact the degree with which a product is liked or disliked by consumers, but it may not affect how products are ranked based on hedonic mean scores. Therefore, while understanding the psychographic composition of a consumer test respondent base may help explain why some products score higher or lower in acceptability, it may not alter the sensory guidance provided to product development regarding the specific flavor and texture attributes that were tested.

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