Alcoholic beverage consumption plays an important role in European culture, and in many contexts drinking alcohol is socially acceptable and considered part of the diet. Understanding the determinants of alcohol preference and consumption is important not only for disease prevention, intervention, and policy management, but also for market segmentation, product development, and optimization. The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of individual responsiveness to various oral sensations on self-reported liking and intake of 14 alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (including beers, wines, spirits, and cocktails) considering gender, age, and oral responsiveness (measured through response to 6-n
-propyl-2-thiouracil -PROP, basic tastes, astringency, and pungency) in a large sample of Italian consumers. Data were collected from 2388 respondents (age range 18–60 years; mean age = 37.6, SD = 13.1; 58.2% women). These results indicate that notwithstanding the strong gender difference, with women generally liking and consuming fewer alcoholic beverages than men, liking patterns in the two genders were similar. Three liking patterns for different alcoholic beverages largely driven by orosensory properties were identified in both genders. “Spirit-lovers” constituted the smallest group (12%), consumed alcoholic beverages of any kind (not only spirits) more than the other segments, and were mainly men aged 30–45. “Beer/wine lovers” (44%) were the oldest group with no difference by gender. “Mild-drink lovers” (44%) liked alcoholic drinks with intense sweet taste and/or mixers that moderate ethanol perception. They were mainly women, aged 18–29, had a lower consumption of alcohol, and a higher orosensory responsiveness than the other two groups. The results also suggest the opportunity to develop personalized recommendations towards specific consumer segments based not only on socio-demographics but considering also perceptive variables. Finally, our data suggest that increased burning and bitterness from alcohol may act as a sensory hindrance to alcoholic beverage overconsumption.
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