Food Desires and Hedonic Discrimination in Virtual Reality Varying in Product–Context Appropriateness among Older Consumers

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Immersive virtual reality (VR) videos can replicate complex real-life situations in a systematic, repeatable and versatile manner. New product development trajectories should consider the complexities of daily life eating situations. The creation of immersive contexts of a product with varying levels of appropriateness could be a useful tool for product developers in evaluating the extent to which context may influence food acceptance and eating behavior. This study explored virtual reality (VR) as an efficient context-enhancing technology through evaluations of protein-enriched rye breads and compared the effects of a VR-simulated congruent (VR restaurant) and incongruent (VR cinema) contexts on the acceptance in older consumers. A total of 70 participants were immersed in the two VR contexts and a neutral control context in a randomized order. The responses indicating the desire and liking for rye breads were measured, and the extent of immersion during context exposure was assessed by levels of the sense of presence and engagement. Immersive VR induced positive sensations of presence and a heightened level of engagement. The VR restaurant and neutral contexts were perceived as more appropriate for consuming rye breads and induced higher desire and liking for rye breads, which supported the notion of the alignment of congruent contexts with food desire and liking. The study provides new perspectives, practical methodologies, and discoveries in regard to the creation and application of VR-immersed contexts in food product evaluation. Moreover, it focused on a consumer segment (older consumers) that has seldom been investigated in previous relevant studies. The findings suggest that immersive VR technology, as a tool for evaluating contextual factors, is important for new product development. The good user experience among older consumers further indicated the potential value of VR as a context-enhancing tool for product development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3228
Issue number20
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2022 by the authors.

    Research areas

  • acceptance, context, immersive technology, older consumers, protein-enriched food, virtual reality

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