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This exploratory research investigated attitudes of consumers toward aspartame and aspartame-sweetened products in a cross-cultural context. The groups under study were French- and English-Canadians. Focus groups were conducted to gain insight of consumer knowledge and awareness of aspartame and other sweeteners, to discover salient attributes and meanings associated with aspartame-sweetened products, and to explore preferences and reasons behind these stated choices of products. Findings did not reveal major differences in attitudes toward nutritive sweeteners between the two groups. However, knowledge and awareness appeared to be higher for English-Canadians. French-Canadians had a marked preference for desserts and sugar taste. Aspartame-sweetened products were unacceptable in social situations and appeared to have a low status in both groups. Habit was revealed to be an important factor in the relationship between attitudes and consumer behavior, and it seems this variable should be included in models incorporating such concepts. Marketers and product developers need this type of information for research guidance, as it will affect product-related decisions, especially in the early stages of product development.
preferences, attitudes, cross-cultural study, French-Canadians (FCs), English-Canadians (ECs), subculture, aspartame, product purchase, focus groups
Research professional, Université Laval, Sainte-Foy, Québec
Professor, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario