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23 August 2016

The power of product experience

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Some of the IFT attendees

According to Carla Kuesten, the actual emotions triggered by what products you choose plays a significant role in whether you’ll by interested in buying again, a fact producers should be paying attention to—but aren’t.

But what exactly do we mean by “emotion?” Glad you asked.

This month, Kuesten, one of Amway’s Senior Principal Research Scientists, spoke at a Hot Topic workshop entitled “Designing Emotion into Food Products to Create Long-Term Consumer Appeal.”

The workshop was delivered in three parts:

  1. The fundamental nature of emotion (how it’s captured qualitatively and measured quantitatively was described).
  2. The role of conceptualisation in emotion and how it can be used to achieve consonance across branding (a discussion that included the topics of packaging and product).
  3. Commercial case studies discussing how emotion can be incorporated into product development.

Turns out, when a consumer picks up an item, even though it’s inanimate in nature, features including the product design (like how it looks, sounds, smells, tastes, or feels) can generate emotions associated with the product that the consumer may not even be aware of.

However, studies show that even though most new products are launched in expectation of commercial success, in practice, almost all new products are commercial failures – most doomed to fail prior to launch due to insidious shortcomings in product design.

So why are these shortcomings being made? The answer lies within the development process. During the development of new products, key emotional factors influencing consumer engagement and motivation to buy repeatedly within a particular product category are not being identified and designed into the new products. In fact, most companies do not consider consumer emotions as a factor throughout the product development process.

Kuesten’s presentation highlights that, it is in fact, necessary to consider these key factors in the process of product development to ensure consumers’ long-term usage appeal and product success. As an alternative to the common process used to develop food products, Kuesten presented a series of studies that demonstrates how Amway scientists incorporate emotion into product design and development.

To provide her audience with a real-world application, Kuesten was able to use our own phytonutrient supplements as an example. Kuesten shared global research demonstrating how a focus on emotions elicited by supplement aromas, consumption habits/practices, attitudes and behaviors over an extended 3-month study, and information regarding consumption experiences for new versus the current product over extended 1-week Home Use Tests (HUT) played into the design of phytonutrient supplements.

The results? Kuesten’s research shows that “consumers discriminate products based on conceptual and emotional profiles, and findings suggest that emotional attributes represent different dimensions beyond sensory experiences and liking that can be used to understand, even influence, consumer choice and consumption behaviors.” Basically, companies should realize it’s not just how a product tastes anymore—it’s how the entire product experience, from first sight to last bite, makes you feel.

Kuesten’s presentation, though impressive in and of itself, stands as a testament demonstrating how Amway scientists are thinking differently to tackle industry-wide problems. Additionally the presentation provided real-life examples that fellow attendees could learn from and apply to their own practices.

At Amway, Kuesten’s team works every day to support R&D and Marketing on new product development initiatives, helping to ensure high quality products reach the ABO and consumer. They design and implement ABO and consumer research studies conducted around the world to create comprehensive understanding and insights through consumer/ABO driven new product development.

The presentation took place during the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Conference. This year more than 23,000 top food science and technology experts from more than 90 countries attended the meeting in Chicago.

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