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ABSTRACT

Two segments of breakfast cereal consumers, previously identified using conjoint analysis as “Healthy Choosey” and “Basic,” were investigated using focus group methodology. The objective of this study was to investigate the attitudes, opinions and concerns of the two largest consumer segments of ready-to-eat (RTE) cereal.

Focus groups, consisting of four to seven participants each, were conducted in triplicate for each of the two segments. Participants met and discussed issues relating to RTE cereal and soy as an ingredient. The Healthy Choosey segment was more concerned with healthy ingredients and sensory acceptance, and was generally not negative to soy, whereas the Basic segment was more concerned about the basic nutrition, price and sensory acceptance, and was either neutral or negative toward soy. Our research indicated that RTE cereal manufacturers should focus on improving consumer acceptance to satisfy both segments of consumers. There is a need to promote the healthfulness of soy-based products without compromising the taste or the cost.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

Our findings illustrated that conjoint analysis can be used in segmenting consumers who can then be recalled for further qualitative analysis. The concerns and needs among different segments of healthy breakfast cereal (HBC) consumers found in our study can be readily transferred to the commercial sector. Depending on the marketing strategy of the company, new or improved version of existing products can be made to satisfy one or more segments of consumers. Manufacturers of soy-based HBC are faced with less forgiving consumers who are reluctant to try soy products. Thus, new soy-based HBC should be introduced only when the products are rated at par with nonsoy-based HBC in terms of sensory acceptance. Hype marketing of soy products is a turnoff to consumers and soy-based HBC manufacturer should focus on promoting only basic, well-established health findings.