Recent Applications of Sensory and Consumer Science

During the past year of challenging times, the need for sensory and consumer research continues. In fact, over the past 16 months, we have partnered with a wide variety of companies to help answer the following business questions and more, including:

Agriculture: our data has helped with the selection process in long-term breeding programs that benefit global growers. It is being used to understand which varieties have the most desirable sensory experience, across preference segments. The goal was to develop predictive models using sensory, consumer, and agronomy data, that could be used early in the growing/development process, to select varieties with the highest consumer appeal. Get there faster and on target!

Leadership Teams/Investors: our sensory and consumer data has been used to protect brands during scale-up and commercialization. Understand the risks and potential benefits to the product, with feedback from your consumer to make informed choices using hard data.

Legal/Claims: We have provided statistical evidence of claim statements that do and don’t hold up under scientific scrutiny using sensory methodology. How much evidence do you need? We can guide you on ways to gather sensory data with findings supported by statistical evidence.

Key Drivers Maximizers: developed multiple sensory, physical/ chemical/consumer Key Drivers Maximizer interactive predictive tools for product development. Robust, easy to use, and allows thinking through formulations prior to moving to the bench.

Marketing & R&D: benefits and learning are enhanced with teams working together.

  • Flavor Naming: Which flavor name is the best fit for the product? It may not be the one that marketing has selected! We use our Master QDA/culinary descriptive panel to help teams understand the sensory experience and the flavor name(s) that best fits the product.
  • Early Stage Concept Exploration: If we build it, will they come? Use survey data to determine the interest level of consumers to your new idea/concept/package, etc.. How does it compare to marketplace benchmarks? Consumer data can help!
  • Late Stage Concept/Product Fit: Are you ready for product lauch? How confident are you in the full mix – concept, product, packaging, and consumer communications? It is ready for launch or is there a need for additional fine-tuning? Consumer validation testing can set your mind at ease or alert you to important and recommended changes. We have done both, recently.
  • Category Reviews: Understand where your portfolio fits relative to competitive offerings. These reviews have helped a variety of product category teams understand renovation and innovation opportunities. Some categories benefit from consumer category reviews more often, especially in fast-growing and new plant-based offerings.
  • Commercialization: What happens when you have a successful brand but it is no longer practical to produce it the old way? During scale-up to a fully commercialized version, is the product at parity or better than the original? Do consumers notice any differences? Our research can help the team understand the product’s sensory experience from its origins to the fully commercialized versions to make more informed decisions.
  • Plant to plant variability: Do you need to move production from one location to another, like a recent client of ours? Descriptive analysis can provide critical guidance to make product decisions that protect the brand and your investment.

Quality Control: we have helped companies with developing language to talk about their products and help with systems to track measurement data with built-in reporting and databasedevelopment. These tools benefit the consumer as well as marketing, R&D, and QC teams. It helps to have an agreed-to sensory language for your products. Let us help bring these tools to your internal team. QC measurement can be simple or more complex, depending on the needs of the business.

Sensory QC Opportunities: this is one of the hottest areas in sensory and consumer science. Start-ups and entrepreneurial teams need to ensure consistent quality with the crazy fast scale-up that is happening in today’s post-Covid marketplace. Sensory measurement can help the team learn faster and track quality better using new techniques and technologies. Contact us for a copy of our learnshop presentation:

Re-imagining sensory quality assurance: New techniques and technologies. 13th Pangborn Symposium, 2019, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Lindsay Barr1, Brooke Bell2, Becky Bleibaum3,4, Matt Conyer51DraughtLab, LLC, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA. 2Goose Island, USA. 3UC Davis Division of Continuing and Professional Education, Davis, California, USA. 4Dragonfly SCI, Inc., Santa Rosa, California, USA. 5DraughtLab, LLC, Rochester, New York, USA

Sensory Consulting: Do you need a sensory expert to noodle research approaches? Call us. We work with a variety of teams and knowledge levels with hourly consulting on topics of your choice. A big part of our mission is teaching and helping others conduct solid sensory and consumer research. How can we help you?

We are basically sensory nerds! We can help you do it yourself, we can do it together, or we can do it for you. Call us!