Background This study provides development guidance to manufacturers of gochujang to optimize its appeal among UK consumers. Preliminary studies focused on consumer attitudes toward the traditional product and decided on the development of a new ethnic product concept. It was concluded that the modified product should be positioned in the narrow speciality/oriental accompaniments retail category as a distinctive, premium, and regionally authentic table sauce. A structured approach to consumer research was used to investigate consumer acceptability and preferences. This paper describes how these methods were used to optimize the product in terms of market positioning and use. Methods Two principal approaches were used in the study: (1) a choice-based conjoint test to consider options in terms of packaging, design, pricing, product descriptions and attributes; and (2) a home placement test to explore the relative appeal of the sensory properties of two product variants and their potential applications. Results Across all six attributes assessed in the conjoint study (n = 676), the sensory properties of the product (43%) followed by brand (24%) were the most important attributes in driving preference. Price (12%) and country of origin (11%) were the next most important, with packaging size and material at 6% and 5%, respectively, being least important. From the home placement study (n = 58), the proposed products were aligned with consumers' existing consumption behaviors. However, it was evident that the products segmented consumer response due principally to their hotness. Conclusion While reducing the hotness of the product has the potential to broaden appeal, this could erode its positioning as a distinctive, premium product with authentic flavors appealing to a specific market segment. Retaining the modified gochujang flavor profile but linking to an established UK speciality sauce brand may offer the most effective platform to enter the UK market.