Sensory Perception Nudge: Insect-Based Food Consumer Behavior
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  • Release Date: 17 Oct 2022
  • consumer behavior
  • insect-based food
  • sensory perception
  • intention
  • neophobia
Video Introduction

This video is adapted from 10.3390/su141811541

The shift of Western consumers towards insect consumption may not be so fast [1]. According to the authors, changing eating behaviors is a difficult task, and the long-term benefits reduce the urgency or perhaps even the relevance. However, it is necessary to change behaviors, including dietary ones, to achieve sustainable development [2].
There are numerous factors that can influence the decision regarding trying an unknown food. Intention precedes behavior, and it is important to understand the characteristics and attributes related to food, as well as the main aspects which influence the intention to try new food products. Nevertheless, the main issues that influence consumer behavior regarding trying new foods of intention, individual beliefs such as attitude; social beliefs such as social norms [3], and sensory perception [4] are considered in this research.
This research aims to understand the influence of sensory perception on people’s experimentation with new foods. Despite the low level of awareness of the benefits of entomophagy [5], this study considers that many aspects influence our perception, specifically our sensorial system. Fear and disgust of eating insects may be reduced as time goes by [1].
Perception is influenced by the visual, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory senses. According to these presumptions, this study assumed the following are affecting factors: the state of matter (such as solid or liquid) [6,7], prevailing temperature (such as heated or chilled) [8], perception (such as quantity, presentation [9], agreeable/disagreeable and mild/strong [10]), touch (such as chunky/delicate, solid/liquid and thick/thin) [11], sensory perception of unaccustomed foods (such as familiarity) [12]. Although, it all hinges on how the new food is presented.
Neophobia applies to the new food, so it should not exist here [13]. Because the senses impact perception, sensory perception is founded on the senses. What prevents, or even promotes the consumption of novel foods? What would be the strategic process so that consumers can adapt to new types of food? Now, the main attention is focused on insects, but the future may bring different and novel approaches, especially in these times of climate change.
The main findings suggest that several factors influence sensory perception, such as preparation (PSP09-12), visual and related aspects (PSV25-27), presentation of the shape (PSP20-24), flavor and related aspects (PSF13-14), temperature influence (PSTI17-19), product conditions (PSC05-08), and smell and related aspects (PSS15-16). We developed and tested a model to understand the main factors that influence an individual’s sensory perception (PSSP28-30) of trying new food, such as insect-based food. Despite all factors having previously been selected and tested in other studies, in our model, the evidence showed the three most important and decisive factors that influence individuals’ sensory perception: preparation, visual and related aspects, and presentation of the shape.
Preparation is important. Before trying a new food product, people like to know the method of preparation as well as the ingredients that the food contains. Nevertheless, they are generally less interested in who has prepared the food. Visual and related aspects are important too. The presentation of the food is a very important factor, and the color of the food has a small influence. However, the amount of food served is not so important. Presentation of the shape is important in trying new foods. Cooked food is very attractive. Cold or sweet foods may also be of interest, in addition to salty foods.
Despite the small influence of color, consumers like to see a color aspect to the food. If the insect is not visible on the dish, it is likely that the insect-based food will be more readily accepted. It is also important to consider the way the food is prepared, for example, whether the food will be prepared to align with healthy habits, or whether the food will be prepared in a traditional way. Food companies should bear in mind that changing eating habits with unknown food is not an easy task, especially where insect-based food consumption within Western countries is involved. Food business practitioners should introduce unknown food, particularly insect-based food, slowly and gradually, as several studies have already demonstrated [1].
The theoretical and practical implications involve knowing some important aspects of behavioral change. It is urgent to change our behavior in favor of sustainability. Policymakers and practitioners can therefore use this knowledge.
Considering that the senses and memory are related [4], aiming to understand the influence of sensory perception on the experimentation of new foods regarding entomophagy, as well as their impact on consumer behavior, this research developed a survey with multiple-answer questions, evaluated on a Likert scale. In this sense, insect-based food and the sensory perception of the individual were considered crucial basis for this research.
Marketers should also understand the importance of selecting proper targets, such as early adopters and families who live in rural areas, because they are more open-minded with regard to trying new foods. Early adopters are very important for innovation. In this case, open-minded people can change their behavior more easily, in addition to those who are concerned with healthy habits and consuming sustainable products. Marketers should also be interested in public opinion leaders who communicate quickly and effectively, such as so-called influencers who have a strong worldwide influence on others, for example, Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish activist who is campaigning to combat climate change.
On the other hand, governments also play an important role in facilitating a shift toward the consumption of new and sustainable food options. Consumers need to feel secure in trying new food s. If there are laws to regulate the production of insect-based food, consumers would feel more comfortable regarding their consumption. Although our study evidences important contributions, they are subject to certain limitations. The study considered several factors that could influence sensory perception individually.
It is necessary to know the particularities of each community. Future investigations can be cross-cutting but they must also be specific to each cultural group. It is also necessary to deepen the studies, to apply them in other countries and other cultures because this theme is central to feeding the human and animal population, as well as achieving sustainability. Future studies could try to combine different factors, to understand how each group of factors can influence the sensory perceptions of each community. Future studies should be replicated in different Western countries, considering the different culinary cultures.
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Martins, O.; Tonis Bucea - Manea, R.; Coelho, A.S.M.; Simion, V. Sensory Perception Nudge: Insect-Based Food Consumer Behavior. Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/441 (accessed on 03 March 2024).
Martins O, Tonis Bucea - Manea R, Coelho ASM, Simion V. Sensory Perception Nudge: Insect-Based Food Consumer Behavior. Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/441. Accessed March 03, 2024.
Martins, Oliva, Rocsana Tonis Bucea - Manea, Ana Sofia Montenegro Coelho, Violeta-Elena Simion. "Sensory Perception Nudge: Insect-Based Food Consumer Behavior" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/441 (accessed March 03, 2024).
Martins, O., Tonis Bucea - Manea, R., Coelho, A.S.M., & Simion, V. (2022, October 17). Sensory Perception Nudge: Insect-Based Food Consumer Behavior. In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/441
Martins, Oliva, et al. "Sensory Perception Nudge: Insect-Based Food Consumer Behavior." Encyclopedia. Web. 17 October, 2022.