Uruguayan consumers' perception of mandarins
insights for selection and marketing of new cultivars
A better understanding of the key characteristics influencing consumers' perception and purchase decisions of mandarins can contribute to the selection of new cultivars that assertively meet their needs and expectations, as well as to the development of strategies to increase mandarin consumption in the different markets. In this context, the aims of the present work were: i) to explore Uruguayan consumers' perception of mandarins, and ii) to identify the key characteristics that drive mandarin purchase decisions. A consumer study with 197 consumers was conducted in a supermarket in the metropolitan area of Montevideo (Uruguay). A word-association task was used to identify consumers' associations with mandarins, whereas a best-worst scaling was used to estimate the relative importance of specific characteristics. Results from the word association task revealed that sensory characteristics (juiciness, sweetness, color, flavor and odor) were the most salient concepts associated with a mandarin, followed by fruit characteristics and consumption context. Mandarin flavor was identified as the most important characteristic underlying consumers' purchase decisions in the best-worst scaling, followed by juiciness and high vitamin content; while packaging, size or price resulted less relevant. Consumer segments who attached different relative importance to vitamin content, price, lack of seeds and easiness to peel were identified. Results from the present work suggest that strategies to increase mandarin consumption should focus on sensory and hedonic aspects rather than package appearance or health-related ones.
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