A method to deal with heterogeneity in consumer groups

The paper entitled “Modeling target group heterogeneity in experimental consumer studies” coauthored by J. Jansen, E. Menichelli and T. Næs was recently published in Food Quality and Preference. The paper presents the method Indvidual Differences (InD)  to deal with heterogeneity in consumer groups.

Full citation

Jansen, J. J., Menichelli, E., & Næs, T. (2015). Modeling target group heterogeneity in experimental consumer studies. Food Quality and Preference, 45(0), 50-57.


Consumer group heterogeneity, Consumer segmentation ,Individual Differences (InD) method, ANOVA residuals


Acceptance of a product by a consumer may result from a convoluted interplay between product attributes and individual characteristics of that consumer. Different methods that systematically combine product properties with consumer groups segmented on such characteristics have provided unprecedented insight, but ignore heterogeneity in acceptance within each consumer group. Although such knowledge is invaluable for targeted marketing, dedicated methods for consumer group heterogeneity are lacking. The authors aim to fill this gap by the Individual Differences (InD) method, which models differences between consumers within the same target group. The method scores the ‘diffusion’ within each group, shows how much each consumer contributes to that, and relates this information to product properties. Thereby also novel groups may be discovered, with attributes not covered in the consumer segmentation. The illustrative consumer study on apple juice reveals how young women differ in their price-consciousness and their acceptance on specific preparation technologies more than older women. Although men exhibit heterogeneity on the same product attributes, their mutual variability is considerably lower and they thereby form more homogeneous target groups.