Pálinka: Consumer Knowledge, Preferences, Consumption Patterns and Marketing Opportunities

Szegedyné Fricz, Ágnes – Szakos, Dávid – Bódi, Barbara – Kasza, Gyula

Keywords: food marketing, communal marketing, short supply chain, hungaricum, local food, consumer study, Q13

The pálinka industry has gone through a dynamic progression and it is now called the ‘national (spirit) drink’ of Hungary. Changes in the legislative environment supported this process, which is still continuing. There are still many policy oriented questions that a comprehensive analysis of the pálinka consumption habits could help to answer. The frame of our research was a joint survey by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Research Institute of Agricultural Economics and Szent István University, Faculty of Food Science. The research methodology was a quantitative survey (n=1014). The personal interviews were conducted in Budapest and at six other locations in Hungary. The data was analysed by the SPSS software. The primary aspect of the analysis in our research was the assessment of the respondents’ pálinka-related knowledge, as well as the consumers’ habits and the factors that determine them. Moreover, we conducted a cluster analysis to identify consumer segments.
The results show that most of the respondents have only a limited factual knowledge about pálinka. Furthermore, conceptual confusions about the possible geographical areas and allowed ingredients were widespread, which indicate the need for comprehensive educational action. The respondents’ gender and age have proven to be determining parameters in these respects, as well as their habits on purchasing and consuming. Many people associated a ‘domestic’ or ‘household’ character to pálinka. Most of the respondents do not buy pálinka in retail outlets, but receive or purchase it from acquaintances.
An extremely wide range of attitudes could be observed towards the topic. However, with a combination of hierarchical and K-means cluster analyses we separated heterogeneous groups of consumers. We found deviations between the clusters, typically by the consumption patterns and their relation to pálinka, rather than the demographic parameters. We succeeded in describing the consumer clusters also by some basic lifestyle and personal characteristics.
Concluding the experiences, we recommend a more targeted pálinka marketing activity, concentrating on the issues of quality and pushing the image of pálinka towards being a delicate retail product.