Case Study

Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma

Focus groups translate American appetites.


Prosciutto di Parma is one of the most recognized and revered food brands in Italy – and the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, which represents all the producers, wanted to bring its authentic flavor to more American consumers. But with growing competition from “generic” imported prosciutto, the Consorzio needed more insight into Americans’ perceptions and uses of prosciutto – including their shopping preferences and behaviors.


SMS Research Advisors conducted focus groups to explore prosciutto perceptions among consumers, and then developed an online study to validate insights on a national scale. The research established attitudes, beliefs and controls that guide consumer perceptions. Path-to-action research also identified the channels consumers use to learn about and purchase specialty meats.


Insights revealed that – while prosciutto was fairly well-known among consumers – it was considered a luxury product: a “fancy ham” to impress guests or celebrate a special occasion. Most didn’t know how to use it or how to differentiate its quality. Since consumers didn’t fully understand the value of Prosciutto di Parma, they questioned its higher price point – and were more likely to buy generic imports. We drew on our research results to inform messaging that could counter consumers’ cost perceptions, using path-to-action results to guide consumer messaging. By showing consumers what makes prosciutto so special – and sharing recipes to elevate their everyday meals – the Consorzio now looks to improve awareness and make meaningful connections with more American consumers hungry for “the king of hams.”