Self-Reported Emotions and Facial Expressions on Consumer Acceptability: A Study Using Energy Drinks

Annu Mehta

Chetan Sharma

Madhuri Kanala

Mishika Thakur

Roland Harrison

Damir Dennis Torrico

Emotional responses elicited by foods are of great interest for new product developers and marketing professionals, as consumer acceptance proved to be linked to the emotions generated by the product in the consumers. An emotional measurement is generally considered an appropriate tool to differentiate between the products of similar nutritional value, flavour, liking and packaging.

Novel methods used to measure emotions include self-reporting verbal and visual measurements, and facial expression techniques. This study aimed to evaluate the explicit and implicit emotional response elicited during the tasting of two different brands (A and B) of energy drinks. The explicit response of consumers was assessed using liking (nine-point hedonic scale), and emotions (EsSense Profile®—Check-All-That-Apply questionnaire), and implicit emotional responses were evaluated by studying facial expressions using the Affectiva Affdex® software. The familiarity of  the product and purchase intent were also assessed during the study. The hedonic rating shows a significant difference in liking between the two brands of energy drink during the tasting session.

For the explicit emotional responses, participants elicited more positive emotions than the negative emotions for both energy drinks. However, participants expressed “happy”, “active” and “eager” emotions more frequently for energy drink A. On the other hand, the implicit emotional responses through facial expressions indicated a high level of involvement of the participants with energy drink B as compared to energy drink A. The study showed that overall liking and the explicit and implicit emotional measurements are weakly to moderately correlated.

The facial expressions of 30 among 47 panellists were evaluated using Affdex based on the facial inputs. The automated facial coding engine (AFFDEX) was integrated with iMotions Facial Expression Analysis Module for decoding the facial emotions using a group of action units (Table 1). The iMotions Facial Expression Analysis Module detects and extracts seven core emotions (joy, anger, fear, disgust, contempt, sadness, and surprise) (shown in Figure 1) and 20 facial expression measures (action units).

The action units describe the movements of facial muscles. Emotions are displayed by the movements of a certain number of combined facial muscles. iMotions module also provides timelines annotations, and scores of engagement and valence to provide insight into the facial emotions. The intensity for emotional expression varies from 0 (no expression) to 100 (expression present).

The facial expression data collected was from the first three seconds after the participants put the energy drink in their mouths. This is based on previous studies in drinks, in which it was demonstrated that automatic nervous system (AND) responses are expressed immediately after participants are exposed to the stimuli.

This publication uses Facial Expression Analysis which is fully integrated into iMotions Lab

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