Technology and the Market

Technology and the Market

Demand, Users and Innovation

Edited by Rod Coombs, Ken Green, Albert Richards and Vivien Walsh

The interplay between demand from the market, the role of users in shaping that demand, and the way in which these factors influence the innovation process has always been a complex one. This forward thinking book examines this interplay from a technological change perspective. The contributors explore the potential for rapprochement between economics, sociological and other social science disciplines in considering the allocation of resources and the making of decisions about technological change. The papers within this book represent a judicious blend of theory and empirical research and look at a broad range of innovations, markets and technologies in medicine, agricultural and food production, services and IT. Technology and the Market raises the question of the many ‘visible hands’ that are involved in linking technology and the market together.

Chapter 12: Taste as a form of adjustment between food and consumers

Cecile Meadel and Vololona Rabeharisoa

Subjects: innovation and technology, innovation policy

Extract

Cécile Méadel and Vololona Rabeharisoa INTRODUCTION What part does taste – that of products and consumers – play in the construction and renewal of agri-food markets? This question is of both practical and theoretical interest. On the one hand professionals in the business are fully aware of the criticism of those who denounce industrial manipulation of the taste of products1 – especially nowadays when questions of food safety and quality are prominent concerns. On the other hand both professionals and analysts stumble against the fluctuations of the taste of consumers. After the exploration of consumers’ rationality, after the integration of consumers’ emotional and imaginary abilities into their behaviours,2 the act of buying and consuming still remains difficult to understand. Consumers are said to be multiple, fickle, disloyal, inconsistent, in short, real ‘chameleons’ who change to suit the circumstances, as some so neatly put it (Cova, 1996; Dubois, 1996). Strangely enough sensations, that is, the expression of bodies in contact with products, are largely neglected in these approaches. More precisely they are often considered either as an effect of products or as a result of individuals’ social or cultural characteristics. Yet agri-food professionals go a lot further than physico-chemical analyses and socio-demographic studies in their attempts to apprehend these impressions. They multiply the number of tasting sessions and create as many opportunities as possible for direct contact between consumers (or their representatives) and products throughout the design, production and marketing stages. The aim of this article is to explain this...

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