The purpose of this study was to determine, understand and describe the acceptability, choice and preference of dairy fruit beverages by a group of black South-African female consumers. Food choice, acceptability and preference are complex and dynamic processes, influenced by various interrelated factors. The study was conducted in two phases. During the first phase a quantitative research approach was followed to collect demographic, purchasing and consumption information of the participants and to determine their hedonic responses towards the dairy fruit beverages by means of standardised sensory evaluation tests. A qualitative research approach was followed during the second phase of the study where focus group discussions were conducted to obtain supportive information for the interpretation and explanation of the data obtained during the first phase of the study. The target population for this study was black adult female consumers. They were chosen because of the high consumption and the popularity of dairy fruit beverages amongst them. The participants were selected from consumers who visited the School of Cookery at a large dairy company in Queensburgh in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The participants all spoke isiZulu and the majority completed Grade 12 or had a tertiary education. The participants were from Durban and surrounding areas. The average age of the participants was 35 years. The purchasing and consumption information revealed that the participants purchased dairy fruit beverages on average once a week from a local supermarket. The dairy fruit beverages were consumed more often in summer and with special occasions (such as birthday parties). The majority of the participants indicated that they preferred to purchase and consume a specific brand. The flavour purchased the most was the pineapple flavour. The results from the preference rating tests indicated that the main discriminating sensory attribute was taste and then flavour. The results from the preference ranking test indicated that the peach flavour was the most preferred fruit flavour. This was in contrast to the purchasing and consumption information which indicated that they mostly buy and consume the pineapple flavour. It was evident from the focus group discussions that all the participants were familiar with dairy fruit beverages and consumed it regularly. This was also supported by the demographic, purchasing and consumption information. The results from the focus group discussions confirmed that taste and appearance are important sensory attributes during food choice. The participants emphasised that the appearance must represent “…real fruit juice…” (it must not look like a soft drink) and must also smell like “…real fruit…”. It was clear that a high price is associated with good quality. Brand loyalty and social status were associated with the dairy fruit beverage brands, and indicated the powerful impact of mass media and advertisements on the perception and choices of dairy fruit beverages. Children were also mentioned as a persuading factor that influenced the choice and purchase of certain brands of dairy fruit beverages. This study contributed to understand and describe the consumer behaviour of the black female consumers in South Africa. The study added support to the implementation of strategic planning in the product development and marketing divisions of a food manufacturing company, to ensure that the consumer is satisfied and that expectations have been met. The quantitative and qualitative results supported and complemented another. Using both quantitative and qualitative research approaches are recommended when cross-cultural consumers in the South African context is the target population.
Dissertation (M Consumer Science (Food Management))--University of Pretoria, 2007.