Learning outcomes of the course unit
Knowledge and understanding
Why a food product is successful? Because of the flavour? Because of its service level, or its appearance? How about the price?
Every day food professionals, the owner of a small restaurant, or the marketing director of a multinational company, deal with similar simple questions.
The course, at entry level, shows a method to find the right answers, and it is aimed mainly to professionals needing to use consumer science as an instrument, more than having consumer science as main objective of their activity.
Applying knowledge and understanding
The focus is on the how each method should be used, more than on its mechanics which is anyway described.
In order to make the understanding easier, methods are described interconnected with the product development and quality processes, outlining the links between consumer science and the main processes of a food company.
Practice exercises are organized to reinforce the frontal lessons.
This objective is only touched, by the utilisation of the inductive method in exercises: this pushes students in elaborating their own opinions; the same happens with the organisation of a consumer test, where students have to summarize their own conclusions.
Moreover the understanding of a discipline generally ignored by food technologist, let the student have a wider and more conscious vision of a food company processes.
A less fragmented way of thinking should enable a more independent judgment capability
Course contents summary
First lessons explain the fundamental mechanisms that drove mankind to present food approach, clarifying how ambient and culture shaped our tastes, producing acceptance and refusal mechanisms.
One lesson explains how those mechanisms are active in the present chaotic melting pot.
The other lessons treat the basics of the up to date consumer research.
For each method are outlined:
• main characteristics,
• pros and cons,
• the situation in which each one should be used.
To link every method to its professional usage, they are presented following the order in which they are utilized in the model of process development “Stage & gate”
Product tests, for example, are presented linked to the prototyping phase.
• The roots of attitudes toward food
o Hinduism and cows
o Islam, Judaism and pigs
o Insects: optimal foraging theory
• Today caos: Gastro-anomia
• Consumers and Markets
• Relationship among R & D, Quality Management and Consumer Science
• The methods
o Secondary analysis: to not reinvent the wheel.
o Usage & Attitudes: for generating new ideas
o Customer visits: suitable for business to business
o Il Focus Group: for investigating consumers deeply
o Non- verbal communication: to check the words value
o Concept test: for testing the ideas value
o Product test: for focusing Research and Development work on consumer needs.
o Market test: for estimating the return of a new product launch.
Students will organize , execute and draw conclusions of a product test with industrial product,.
The test will be organized in collaboration with a food company.
• Slides used in frontal lessons;
• EDWARD F. MCQUARRIE; 2006; The Market Research Toolbox, A Concise Guide for Beginners second edition; Santa Clara University SAGE Publications
• ANNE E. BEALL, PhD;2008; Strategic Market Research, A Guide to Conducting research That Drive Business, New York, iUniverse , INC
• JEAN-PIERRE POULIN; 2008; Alimentazione, Cultura e Società; Il Mulino
• MARVIN HARRIS Buono Da Mangiare; Giulio Einaudi Editore
• ANNA V.A. RESURRECTION; 1998; Consumer Sensory Testing For Product Development; Aspen Publishers, Inc. 1998
In each frontal lesson the main argument is anticipated by a short exercise to invite students to an inductive thinking on the issue.
It consists in about 5 minutes in which students work on their own with written conclusions, , 5-10 minutes of work in groups of 4-5 people with written conclusions, presentation and public discussion, often very lively, of the groups conclusions.
Moreover each lesson 1 / 2 discussion between students are started on purpose, in order to inductively introduce key lesson issues.
Each course is entrusted to students a consumer test with real products in collaboration with a food company.
Assessment methods and criteria
During frontal lessons:
Knowledge and understanding (descriptor I) and partially Applying knowledge and understanding ( descriptor II)
Examining the written exercises elaborates, listening carefully class-room disscussion can be verified the I and II descriptor, both for the class room groups , and singles students.
By the final oral test:
The oral test can be start with the presentation of a short original written elaborate, which is optional. The original elaborate can give information on descriptor I and II, sometimes III.
Questions are targeted mainly at descriptors I and II, for example:
• Can you describe the method x?
• What’s its peculiarity?
• What’s its pros and cons?
• In what phase of the product development would you use it?
• Describe a real working situation in which you would use the method, explaining the reasons and the objectives.
Sometimes a case history to be solved by consumer analysis methods is proposed; in this case can be collected also some information about descriptor 3