Focus group and word association for evaluating consumer perception of microwave popcorn labels

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New microwave popcorns are available in the market to meet consumer demands for healthier foods; thus, we evaluated the consumer perception about them. Four label images were used: natural flavor popcorn without salt; natural flavor popcorn with salt; whole grain popcorn, 0% sodium, 25% less total fat, natural flavor; and whole grain popcorn, 25% less sodium, 25% less total fat, natural flavor with salt. Focus group and word association were applied. The focus group deepened the importance of the label colors, price and consumer perception regarding the whole grain popcorns. Through word association, the labels of natural popcorn with and without salt were associated with the sensory aspects and affective memory, while the whole grain popcorns were associated with ingredients, composition and aspects related to health and nutrition. All labels had negative associations. In conclusion, both techniques present important results regarding consumer behavior and purchase/consumption of microwave popcorn. Practical Applications: Although popcorn has a good nutritional value, it is believed that the microwave popcorn is not seen as a nutritious food by consumers, maybe due to ingredients added to the popcorn, such as butter and flavorings. New microwave popcorn has recently become available on the market, with changes in their nutritive composition and ingredients, followed by differences in the labels and packages, which is related to the consumer demand for healthier products. In this way, the perception that consumers have about the labels of products is relevant to their purchase and consumption. In this study, although the positive perceptions about the microwave popcorn labels, negative perceptions appeared through the focus group and word association techniques. Such information is relevant and deserves attention by companies when developing new products and labels to meet the consumer desire for healthier products.





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Journal of Sensory Studies, v. 38, n. 2, 2023.

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