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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Using Focus Groups to Develop a Quantitative Consumer Questionnaire

Authors
item Mcneill, Kay - NC STATE UNIVERSITY
item Sanders, Timothy

Submitted to: Journal of Sensory Studies
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 10, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: It is more economically sound to evaluate a product by a trained descriptive analysis panel than by conducting large consumer studies. No published information exists on the language of consumers regarding peanut butter. In order to examine and correlate the sensory characteristics of commercial peanut butter by trained and consumer panels, information was collected on consumer language and opinions. This was accomplished through the use of focus group sessions (in-depth group discussions) among 8-12 participants led (focused) by a moderator. The information provided important qualitative information as well as insights into consumer behavior regarding the purchase of peanut butter. Two consumer focus group sessions, with a total of 20 participants, were conducted to gather information on the consumer vocabulary for appearance, flavor and texture attributes and appropriateness of attribute scales for commercially available peanut butters. This focus group work is the first step in a larger study, in which information gathered will be used to develop a quantitative consumer questionnaire for consumer evaluation of a wide range of peanut butters. Consumer data will then be correlated with information from descriptive analysis panels to determine relationships between the two types of tests.

Technical Abstract: Two consumer focus group sessions, with a total of 20 participants, were conducted to gather information on the consumer vocabulary for appearance, flavor and texture attributes and appropriateness of attribute scales for commercially available peanut butters. Participants were asked to describe peanut butter and identify each descriptor as either a positive or negative eattribute of the product. Participants tasted four distinctly different, unbranded peanut butter samples and used the previously identified descriptors to characterize each of the samples. Respondents indicated the samples differed on most of the descriptors. Results suggested that these consumers were able to discriminate between various brands of peanut butter on specific appearance, flavor, and textural attributes. Focus groups allowed for better understanding of consumer language for peanut butter to be used for subsequent quantitative consumer testing.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014