Research Abstract for Three Senoritas Team

“Focus Group Discussions as Part of Formula Development”

Authors: Boushell, Audrey; Davis, Kathryn; Lipscomb, Keri; Dr. Aubrey Coffee

Category: Product Development    Division: Student Member

Culinology® Knowledge Competency: Formula Development

Justification: Consumer feedback is a vital component to successful formula development as it can help identify issues/concerns at a point in the process where adjustments are relatively easy and cost effective to make.

Objectives:  The objective was to conduct a focus group discussing a Tex-Mex appetizer featuring pork to gather pertinent information about appearance, flavor, and texture attributes as well as serving size and selling price.

Methods: Nine panelists were recruited to participate in a 30 minute focus group consumer discussion, featuring the Three Señoritas Dip Duo submission into the RCA Student Culinology® Competition.   Participants were presented with a series of questions to prompt responses about appetizers in general, ingredients and flavors of Tex-Mex and Tex-Mex appetizers.  Panelists were then provided with a warm 2oz sample of Spicy Chorizo Queso Dip, a tasting spoon and tortilla chips.  At this point they were asked to discuss the appearance, consistency/texture, flavor of the dip on its own and flavor with a tortilla chip.  A warm 2oz sample of the Smoked Pork Salsa Roja, tasting spoons and tortilla chips were given to participants and the same discussions concerning the appearance, consistency/texture and flavor attributes were conducted.  Lastly, the focus group moderator posed questions concerning packaging, serving size and selling price.  To gather the information on serving size and price, a photograph of the selling portion of the dips in two separated bowls was presented to the group. 

Results:  Though the dip duo was right on the mark as far as Tex-Mex appetizers, ingredients, serving size and price point, some areas required adjustment. The results indicated that some reformulation was necessary to correct a texture and consistency issue with the queso dip.  It was also necessary to incorporate some additional heat into the roasted vegetable salsa to make the duo a more cohesive product.  The size of pork pieces in the salsa was also adjusted to make it more pleasing to consumers.

Significance to the Culinology® Field:  By conducting focus groups and facilitating them at the appropriate stage of development, companies can greatly increase the successful launch of a product into the market.