Although consumers enjoy the richness of fat in their chocolate milk, they most often buy flavored milks with 2 percent fat or less. When 350 adults were asked, the most important factor for purchase intent was flavor. The primary label information that was used as purchase criteria was fat content followed by sugar content and brand. This study, developed by researchers at the Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center at North Carolina State University, helps food marketers understand how consumers select chocolate milk from the assortment of brands in the marketplace.

Researchers used a combination of online surveys and consumer taste panels to learn what features consumers prefer in chocolate milk. They found that consumers prefer the taste of chocolate milk made with whole milk, but they most often buy the lower-fat varieties. Consumers will commonly look for smaller amounts of sugar on the label, but fat-free and sugar-free products are not popular. Overall, sensory attributes such as flavor, fat and sweetness were more important in consumer choices than label information, especially when the consumer was actually allowed to taste the product. This type of information can drive product development choices toward those attributes preferred by consumers.

Kim MK, Lopetcharat K, Drake MA. Influence of packaging information on consumer liking of chocolate milk. J Dairy Sci. [Epub ahead of print]. 24 May 2013. Abstract