The role of consumer expectancies in the acceptance of novel foods

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“Novel” foods such as soybean are those recently introduced and many consumers avoid such foods simply due to lack of familiarity with them. Experiments were therefore conducted to examine factors affecting the consumer acceptance of selected soybean foods. Variables included for analyses of their effects were: (i) preparation variables; (ii) product name (iii) brand name and label (iv) availability of product information; (v) nature and quantity of product information; (vi) degree of familiarity of the user with the product. 28 male and 28 female volunteer, untrained panelists were selected and a nine- point labeled hedonic scale was used to make all judgements. The results show that the flavour of soymilk is critical to its acceptance and soybean-based yoghurt could be more acceptable should they have names which clearly spell out the “yoghurt”. For Nestle’s cerelac (with soybean) and nutrend (with soybean), the closer an actual brand comes to the ideal (the familiar product), cerelac with milk powder, the more it will be preferred. Prior knowledge of product name of soymilk, alerted panelists to more information to reduce the dissonance experienced due to disquieting features of past products. Irrespective of whatever information is included in the label, consumers would expect soybean based “koko” products to taste similar to sole maize “koko” products. The results also indicated that hedonic response is related to the degree of familiarity or non familiarity of the user with soybean foods. The study concludes that hedonic response to soybean foods is a function of the degree to which expectancies about the food are matched by subsequent experiences with it. This theoretical framework is proposed as a useful analytical tool for predicting consumer responses to novel foods in Ghana and it also suggests that product claims should faithfully represent products likely performance.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of Postgraduate Diploma in Industrial Management, 1996