Journal: Food Research International, vol. 64, p. 456–464, 2014
International Standard Numbers:
Open Access: none
Previous research has shown that consumers' sensory and hedonic perceptions could be greatly influenced by the messages highlighted on the front of the packaging, particularly nutrition and health claims for reduced-calorie or functional foods. In food products designed for hunger control, mentioning satiating effects or meal replacement could potentially influence the expected satiety or other perceptions, including those associated with a filling effect. This study investigated the effect of packaging information on consumer perceptions of eleven commercial chocolate-flavoured satiating and meal replacement bars. Projective mapping (Napping®) with a descriptive step was used to profile the expectations elicited by the eleven bars, based on their extrinsic characteristics (without tasting them), with two different groups of consumers in two different scenarios: mapping the samples' packaging and mapping cards with an identical design showing the most important information displayed on the packaging (product name, nutrition information panel and nutrition and health messages or claims). The terms and comments obtained in the two scenarios were analysed and perceptual spaces were generated from the sample location and attributes obtained in the Napping® exercises, using multi factor analysis (MFA). The results showed that when evaluating the real packaging, the consumers mainly focused on the meal replacement- or satiation-related messages and on the images to build up their perception, attaching less or no importance to the nutritional information that was also displayed on the box. When examining the packaging, sensory expectations – which probably emerged from the images of the bars – were also a very important factor in placing the samples in the perceptual space. When looking only at the cards, the consumers' grouping and attribute generation focused in great detail on the nutritional information. The calorie content also became a much more important factor in their perceptions of the bars. Interestingly for the product category analysed, messages about “satiating” and “meal replacement” effects were clearly distinct and negatively correlated in the consumers' minds.