Sensory claims:  How
         do they influence consumers? From March 2020

Sensory claims: How do they influence consumers?

What is a sensory claim?

A sensory claim is defined as ‘a statement about a product that highlights its advantages, sensory or perceptual attributes, or product changes or differences compared to other products, in order to enhance its marketability’. They’re commonly featured in all types of advertising media from TV to packaging and include statements such as “the UK’s favourite”, “Great taste” and “Creamier than ever!”.

Why make a sensory claim?

In markets that are increasingly saturated and often very competitive, sensory claims can be a useful marketing tool to highlight the unique selling point of a product. Claims are thought to help consumers shape positive expectations toward a product at the point of purchase (e.g. on-pack claims) or pre-purchase (e.g. claims within TV commercials). Ultimately, the aim is to have a positive impact on consumers’ purchase decisions. To that end, claims need to be perceived as meaningful, as well as relevant and credible by consumers (see page 5 for more on substantiated claims).

Sometimes sensory claims can be used as alternatives to health or nutrition claims and, while consumer studies have demonstrated the positive impact of health and nutrition claims on product choice and purchase, few have measured the impact from sensory claims.

What we found

As part of a member-funded research project, we held a series of focus groups. The goal? To assess UK consumers’ awareness, understanding and perception of sensory claims.

Of the key findings from this qualitative study, two that stood out were:

Overall, participants were quite cynical about the use and credibility of many forms of sensory claims.

What does this mean for the industry?

Our research is providing us with a clearer picture of what influences a consumer’s likelihood to purchase a product. It appears that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to finding the right sensory claim for a product. The need for a better understanding of which claims work best for particular products prompted another consumer study. To reach a broader audience, this one was conducted online.

Online consumer study

We carried out the online study to quantify the impact of sensory claims on purchasing decisions, with participants from the UK, France and Germany. The results will help us understand the impact that cultural differences have on the effects of sensory claims. We also investigated whether the impact of these sensory claims would differ with different product categories - breakfast cereal, fruit yoghurt, orange juice and fish pie. The data is currently being analysed, however initial results show significant differences in the impact of the sensory and non-sensory product claims depending on the participants’ country of origin and the product’s category.

Members can find out the full results Here where you can also find out more about the project including all of our key findings from our recent focus group study. How do consumers perceive your products? Are your sensory claims attracting or repelling them? Find out by getting in touch to have your product’s claims substantiated by our sensory and consumer experts.

Contact: Sarah Thomas
+44(0)1386 842254

OR: Marleen Chambault
+44(0)1386 842256

Contact an expert