This paper presents the development, application and evaluation of a method for need identification in food product design, which combines the use of collage techniques and focus groups. Recent findings in neurobiology and psychology have considerable relevance for methodological improvement in consumer research. Based on these findings, a collage and focus group study aiming to identify feelings, emotions and experiences of consumers towards Home Meal Replacements, as well as relevant product attributes, is developed and performed. Its effectiveness is compared with that of (strictly) verbo-centric research previously carried out. Trends in image-based consumer research for product design are discussed. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.