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ABSTRACT

This study (1) examines the sensory attributes of a large group of red apples and compares consumer perceptions of them with those of a trained sensory panel; and (2) uses a sensory semantic frame classification to analyze the vocabulary used. Descriptive analysis was carried out with the trained panel, while a simplified version of the repertory grid method was used for one-to-one interviews with consumers. The perceptions expressed by the consumers correlated quite well with the terminology used by the trained panel, and the two groups used many identical words when describing the apples' texture, flavor and taste according to partial least squares regression. A sensory semantic frame was constructed based on the vocabulary used by the two groups. The combination of sensory and semantic analysis could be one way of extracting valuable words for use in contexts such as product description for marketing purposes in retail stores.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

To increase and optimize consumer experiences of fruits and vegetables, it is crucial to use the proper words, both informatively and esthetically, to express these sense experiences. Often, however, it can be difficult to describe the taste, flavor, scent and texture of the food we eat. An agreed-on sensory and semantic language for apples, for example, could be valuable for effective communication in retail stores, to improve selling statistics, consumption and consumer quality awareness.

The key outcome of the study is that the perceptions of the trained panel and the consumers were quite similar, and that the combination of sensory and semantic methodology could be a valuable tool to create sensory characteristics of products to be used in effective marketing communication in grocery retail stores. Future research could investigate consumer decision-making in relation to sensory and semantic description labels in retail grocery stores.