Abstract: The effect of sensory and extrinsic attributes on consumer intentions to purchase the Japanese traditional fermented soybean product natto was evaluated using conjoint analysis. Six attributes with 2 levels each were chosen and manipulated: price (high compared with low), the country of origin of the soybeans (domestic compared with imported), stickiness (strong compared with moderate), smell (rich compared with moderate), attached seasonings (attached compared with no attached seasonings), and the environmental friendliness of the packaging (high compared with low). A fractional factorial design was applied and 8 hypothetical product labels were produced. A sample of 479 Japanese housewives ranked these product labels based on their purchase intentions. Overall purchase intention was affected by country of origin, attached seasonings, and price; those attributes accounted for 81.0%, while the sensory attributes of the product accounted for 19.0% of purchase intents. In order to estimate market segments for the natto products based on consumer preference, a cluster analysis was performed. It identified 4 segments of consumers: 1 oriented to attached seasonings, another conscious of the price, and the other 2 oriented to origins. The behavioral and demographic characteristics of the respondents had a limited influence on segment membership.
Practical Application: This research was conducted to understand how consumers valuate various sensory and nonsensory product attributes based on their assessment of the overall product in the case of Japanese fermented soy product (natto). The data of this research would be of great importance both in understanding consumer behavior and in designing strategies for product development.