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How does consumers’ taster status influence their emotions on sugar-free chocolate?
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1  North-West University
Academic Editor: Han-Seok Seo (registering DOI)

Several studies confirm the link between sensory properties of foods and consumers’ emotional responses, influencing their food choices. However, few studies have looked at how consumers’ different taster status (non-, medium- and supertasters) influence their emotions when consuming sugar-free food products. This research aims to develop emotional lexicons (using the EmoSensory wheel terms) to describe sugar-free chocolate according to consumers' taster status. A cross-sectional survey design and a non-probability convenience sampling method was used. The study sample consisted out of South African consumers (N = 153). For data collection, each respondent received a milk and dark sugar-free chocolate (two samples) for tasting. An electronic questionnaire was employed to collect quantifiable data after obtaining ethical approval followed by statistical analysis. Results showed that respondents were classified into three taster status groups with almost an equal distribution between non-tasters (38.6%), medium tasters (39.9%) and supertasters (21.5%). Most respondents liked dark chocolate (mean = 4.09) more than milk chocolate (mean = 3.95) based on a 5-point Likert scale. However, more than half of the non-tasters selected positive emotions for milk chocolate, while the medium tasters, chose more positive emotions for dark chocolate. Most of the super tasters (increased sensitivity to bitter taste) indicated the highest selection of negative emotions for dark chocolate. These findings indicated that each taster status requires the development of a distinctive emotional lexicon to be emotionally satisfied by sugar-free products. This confirmed that taste sensitivity varies among consumers and can have a significant impact on their emotions and ultimately their food choices.

Keywords: taster status; sensory; emotions; emotional lexicons; chocolate; choice