When considering product differences that drive consumer liking, it is helpful to imagine a space described by sensory characteristics in which each product has a location. In this space a person’s ideal product may be found, so that if we understood this space we could predict the person’s degree of liking for each product. By looking into this space we would also notice that each product and each ideal does not exist as a point, but as a cluster of variously similar points as illustrated in Figure 1. Some people clearly know what they like - their ideals are tightly clustered together; others are more uncertain – their ideal points form a larger cloud of points. Individuals do not have absolute ideal points; the ideal points vary momentarily depending on variables such as mood, time of day, and recent consumption experience. Similarly products do not have exactly determined positions. Products are represented by clusters of varying size due to differences in momentary perception.
Ennis, D. M. (2001). Drivers of Liking® for Multiple Segments. IFPress, 4(1) 2-3.
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This technical report also appears in our book, Tools and Applications of Sensory and Consumer Science.