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Wallingford, United Kingdom

Thomson D.M.H.,MMR Research Worldwide Ltd | Crocker C.,MMR Research Worldwide Ltd
Food Quality and Preference | Year: 2015

All objects, including brands and products, have perceptual (sensory) characteristics and conceptual associations. Together they determine how an object seems to us and how it impacts on our feelings. Capturing and quantifying the conceptual associations that trigger the feelings that induce reward and subsequently motivate behaviour (conceptual profiling), provides a rich source of insight for guiding brand and product development.This paper presents a brief theoretical description of conceptualisation, followed by three practical case studies.Study 1 demonstrates the application of segmentation to explore singularity of brand message in car brands. Across a sample of UK car buyers, Citroen exhibited a weak conceptual profile. However segmentation analysis revealed four underlying segments that conceptualise Citroen differently from each other, indicating that the brand does have clarity of meaning but it differs substantially across car buyers.Study 2 compares brand versus unbranded product conceptual profiles for two dark chocolates. Scatterplots revealed a high correlation (. r=. 0.78, brand-product consonance) for one brand but dissonance (. r=. 0.05) for the other. The former succeeded in-market whereas the latter failed. The correlation coefficient may be used as an index of fit-to-brand. Because it is obtained independently from liking, this measure avoids the halo effect that often confounds direct measures of fit-to-brand.Study 3 compares the conceptual profiles of five Scottish tartans to the conceptual profile of an unbranded Scotch whisky, with a view to selecting and featuring one of the tartans in branding. The tartans differed in colour, colour contrast and degree of formality of design. Conceptual profiling revealed that the formal tartans were highly consonant with the whisky irrespective of colour and contrast, presumably because of their strong mutual association with Scotland, but attempts to contemporise the tartan by adding informal design elements created dissonance. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Thomson D.M.H.,MMR Research Worldwide Ltd | Thomson D.M.H.,Research South, Inc. | Crocker C.,MMR Research Worldwide Ltd | Marketo C.G.,Research South, Inc.
Food Quality and Preference | Year: 2010

The conceptual profile of an unbranded product arises via three sources of influence: (i) category effect - how consumers conceptualise the product category: (ii) sensory effect - how the sensory characteristics of a particular product differentiate it from other products in the category: (iii) liking effect - the disposition of consumers to the category and how much they like a particular product. Assuming that category effects (conceptualisation and disposition) are constant across the set of products, it is anticipated that the conceptual differences apparent across the set of unbranded products would be driven, at least in part, by sensory differences. This study describes the application of best-worst scaling to conceptual profiling of unbranded dark chocolates and outlines novel data modelling procedures used to explore sensory/conceptual relationships. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Thomson D.M.H.,MMR Research Worldwide Ltd | Crocker C.,MMR Research Worldwide Ltd
Food Quality and Preference | Year: 2013

We define 'feeling' as the subjective, affective experience of an emotion or a mood. People seek out feelings that are positive because it is rewarding for them to do so. It follows that manufacturers of branded goods should be concerned about the feelings that predispose consumers to buy their products and also about the feelings that their products help consumers to attain, perpetuate, enhance, diminish or dissipate, in pursuit of reward. Towards this end, practical procedures are required that will allow researchers to capture the prevailing feelings that individuals are experiencing at a particular moment in time and to track the transitions induced by products, brands, advertising etc. In order to develop and apply such research tools, researchers need an appropriate and well-focused lexicon through which they can access and explore feelings. This study describes a data-driven classification of feelings. An initial word list comprising 544 terms, of which 209 were notionally positive and 335 were notionally negative, was developed in English, French, German and Italian. In Phase 1 of the study, approximately 350 respondents were recruited in each of France, Germany, Italy and the UK to participate in a self-report feelings questionnaire. This yielded 55 feeling clusters of which 23 were notionally positive and 32 were notionally negative. In Phase 2 of the study, 60 exemplar terms in English were extracted from the previous cluster analysis and subjected to a similarity sorting exercise using 70 UK respondents. This yielded 25 lower-level clusters and 12 higher-level clusters, all of which were intuitively interpretable, along with a map derived using MDS that resembled a circumplex with the usual dimensions of affect and arousal. Frequency counts based on respondents' self-reported feelings revealed that 64% of endorsements were of notionally positive and 36% notionally negative terms. This supports previous findings that the majority of people seem to exist in a generally positive state of mind. Findings were consistent across the four countries. The key outputs from this research are a lexicon of feelings comprising 59 terms in English, French, German and Italian along with a highly intuitive classification of these terms into 25 lower-order and 12 higher-order clusters. It is envisaged that the lexicon and the classification scheme will find application in consumer research and in brand and product development. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Crocker C.,MMR Research Worldwide Ltd | Thomson D.M.H.,MMR Research Worldwide Ltd
Food Quality and Preference | Year: 2014

Best-worst scaling can be used to elicit the conceptual associations that consumers make with objects such as brands, products and packs. Respondents are presented with the object to be profiled and asked to choose the words most and least associated with the object from successive sets of four or five words. The resulting conceptual profile takes the form of a series of words placed on a difference scale, according to their degree of association with the object. The relativism of best-worst scaling prevents direct comparison of scale values between different objects' conceptual profiles, limiting the flexibility of the method. The issue is analogous to the problem of comparing scale values across individuals or groups participating in a best-worst exercise, for which other solutions have been proposed.We describe an experimental design that addresses the anchoring issue when conceptual profiles rather than individuals need to be compared. The best-worst exercises described above, one per object, are augmented by a 'calibration' best-worst exercise in which the roles of the conceptual terms and objects are reversed. Referred to as two-way best-worst scaling, the method is demonstrated using case studies on car brands (brand conceptualisation) and orange juice (unbranded product conceptualisation).To validate the underlying model, a parallel study was conducted using a direct scaling technique. For the car brands, the two methods gave similar conceptual profiles with a linear relationship between the two scales. Analysis of covariance suggests that the anchoring procedure succeeded in aligning the difference scales of the brands.When the 'calibration' exercise was performed prior to profiling the car brands, discrimination across the brands was greater than when the calibration exercise was carried out afterwards. It is presumed that the calibration exercise had heightened the awareness of participants to differences amongst the brands. This is an important secondary benefit which suggests that the two-way design, with the calibration exercise performed first, would be particularly advantageous for objects where the conceptual associations are weak or where those associated with differences amongst objects are difficult to access. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Thomson D.M.H.,MMR Research Worldwide Ltd | Crocker C.,MMR Research Worldwide Ltd
Food Quality and Preference | Year: 2014

All objects including brands, products and packaging have conceptual (implicit) associations and consequently a conceptual profile. Along with its sensory profile this defines and characterises the object. Together these influence our attitudes, our affective reactions (feelings and pleasure) and our behaviour towards it. The conceptual content of a brand is usually clear and readily accessible via established brand personality measures. However, until recently, the conceptual content of product per se has received scant attention.The conceptual content of an unbranded product derives from two sources: the fundamental nature of the product category ('category effect') and within-category sensory differences amongst related products ('sensory specific effect'). The latter leads to subtle variations in conceptual content that are important in the context of product optimisation but may be difficult to measure.Best-worst scaling (BWS) is an indirect method of scaling that has been found to be particularly useful for measurement of 'soft' or abstract attributes that are not easily quantified. It has been applied previously to conceptual profiling of brands and products. This study compares the utility of BWS versus a direct rating method (an online technique known as bullseye) for accessing the conceptual content of six unbranded orange juices. Degree of familiarisation with the research process and the juices (intensive familiarisation versus a simple warm-up) was added as a second variable, thereby creating four methodological cells to compare.Irrespective of familiarisation protocol, BWS proved to be more effective than bullseye in eliciting the 'sensory specific effect'. However the biggest effect was associated with the familiarisation protocol, where intensive familiarisation engendered more effective discrimination amongst the juices than the simple warm-up, irrespective of scaling methodology. We conclude that intensive familiarisation is of great benefit to the conceptual profiling of unbranded products for product development.Within a product's conceptual profile, BWS and bullseye discriminated amongst the conceptual terms to a similar degree. Previous studies have tended to find that BWS gives greater discrimination amongst the choice items than rating scales. We suggest that the nature of the choice items and the number of decisions required from participants both affect the relative discrimination of the two methods. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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