This study links sensory analysis with consumer willingness to pay (WTP) for national, private label, and local brands of cheese at the retail level. Results indicate that a lesser-known local brand is rated the highest of four cheese brands for its sensory characteristics, but is not competitive with the other brands, in terms of consumer WTP, unless it has a state-sponsored designation (SSD). The competitiveness of a second local brand with high label recognition was aided when labeled “locally-produced,” but not by the SSD. Hence, local designations strengthen brands in general, but SSDs are best for lesser known, high quality products.


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