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What kind of cheese are you?

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 01-13-11 at 3:23 p.m.

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The foods on our plate are faithful mirrors of our personality. As far back as 1825, the French gastronome Brillat-Savarin  was an ardent defender of this theory, which CROP’s Nutrio and Panorama programs have championed for more than 20 years, regardless of the product category being studied.

The world of cheese provides us with a good example via two products that are now well-integrated in the eating habits of Canadians, although they both come from Europe: Mozzarella and Feta cheeses.

So, are you more of a Mozzarella type or a Feta type of person? The answer might seem unimportant until we establish the profile of regular consumers of each of these products.

Of course, fans of both of these cheeses are generally hedonists and have a tendency to consider food more as a pleasure than as a simple fulfillment of a physiological need; however, the similarities end there and the rest paints a picture of two very distinct worlds.

The regular consumer of Mozzarella is of an impulsive nature, someone who seeks spontaneous pleasures and runs on strong emotions and sensations. He displays avidity for food: he enjoys the sensation of feeling stuffed and doesn’t hesitate to take a second helping of a dish that he enjoyed. He prefers spicy foods or at the very least, foods that have a strong taste – from this viewpoint, mozzarella plays the role of an ingredient that gives consistency to dishes that are otherwise spicy. His diet does not follow a particular routine; he eats when he is hungry and regularly nibbles between meals or even instead of meals. Spontaneity is the key word for him; he always has something with him or in his kitchen to alleviate the munchies or a sudden desire to eat. His voracious appetite does not prevent him from making some healthy choices: notably, he tries to limit his consumption of sugar, salt and fried foods. Finally, his values profile shows a certain taste for risk, which leads him to flirt with that which is forbidden and to be an early adopter of new products and services that appear on the market.

The regular consumer of Feta cheese has much more structured dietary habits. Meals are essential milestones throughout his day; they provide a regular rhythm to his daily life and are an opportunity to connect with the people around him. Impulsive snacking is not a usual part of his lifestyle. In fact, this consumer is the quintessential example of the Nutrio segment we call “Foodies” and the Panorama segment that we call “Explorers”, both of which have been on the rise in Canada over the past few years. We are looking at an individual who loves to discover new things when it comes to food, as well as in his daily life. He wants to broaden his horizons by exploring cuisine from other cultures, new ingredients that he sees in the supermarket or new ways of preparing food. He doesn’t hesitate to try complicated recipes or even make up his own recipes. He enjoys learning in general and is inclined to enrich his knowledge of food and cooking by perusing articles, recipes and websites as well as watching television programs on the subject. The Feta consumer is strongly preoccupied by the quality of the food he eats; he reads the list of ingredients in order to avoid foods that contain additives and preservatives. Endowed with a strong social and ecological conscience, he tends to prefer locally-produced foods and to reject genetically modified foods. Furthermore, he is often inclined toward sophisticated choices: to him, the elegance of a dish, its refinement in terms of taste and presentation are as important as its nutritional value.

While the Mozzarella aficionado is more of a strategic consumer who considers price a major factor in the quality vs. price equation, the Feta aficionado is much more centered on value added: he seeks “a little something extra” that gives him a different experience, which adds a touch of originality to his meal, even if it means spending a little more.

To accompany his meals, the Mozzarella consumer would probably choose a mainstream type of beer while the Feta consumer would be more likely to track down a relatively good quality wine.

Therefore, let us suggest that you don’t invite these two individuals to the same party, or if you have no choice, don’t seat them together because they probably won’t have much in common to talk about!

Similarly, if you are targeting both these types of consumers, your marketing strategies shouldn’t address them in the same manner. The Mozzarella consumer will be more receptive to an approach centered on the joy of eating substantial meals, on innovation and the accessibility of the product, in an environment that expresses intensity, with a touch of rebellion. On the other hand, the Feta consumer would be more seduced by an approach that satisfies his thirst for discovery, transforming a simple cheese into an experience that allows him to travel and is physically and culturally nourishing, encapsulated in a relatively sophisticated environment where the integrity (the naturalness) of the food is emphasized.

So, Feta, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Brie, Havarti, Gouda, Edam, Gorgonzola? If each type of cheese corresponds to a personality type, we can understand why the former French president, Charles de Gaulle, humorously wondered, “how can you govern a country which has 258 varieties of cheese?”
Of course, our tools are not limited to analyzing the cheese category as exemplified in this article. CROP’s Nutrio program allows us to draw up, in each food category, the profile of different types of consumers according to the specific product they favour or the brand they buy, thereby helping our clients ground their marketing strategies on the drives and desires of their consumers and potential consumers.

For further information on the values and/or food habits of consumers of your product category or brands, do not hesitate to contact us!