“We want to set up a sensory panel. But we do not have any budgets for building sensory test facilities. We are also worried about covid-19 effects when doing sensory tests….” Indeed, the requirement of the sensory facility is one of the reasons our clients give up the development of sensory panels. In addition, the covid-19 pandemic is another reason they think of stopping any sensory testing.
However, there is a solution to those issues when we think differently. We can conduct sensory testing with trained panelists by applying the principle of sensory testing in-home environments.
An FMCG company wanted to conduct sensory testing to evaluate Japanese sensory panelists’ perceived performances of body care products. In addition, they wanted to build a trained sensory panel to periodically evaluate perceived product performances in the Japanese marketplace where consumers closely pay attention to skin conditions.
No available sensory facilities and Covid-19 impacts
While trained sensory panels required sensory testing rooms to control testing conditions, the client did not have such a facility. Furthermore, Covid-19 required (and still requires) social distancing and remote working to avoid the spread of viruses.
The Solution Approach
Sensory training and testing remotely
To tackle the challenge, we did everything remotely. In collaboration with recruiters, we recruited panelists who had high descriptive and product differentiation skills online. We ensured the panelists evaluated samples in the controlled conditions in their rooms and terminology development and descriptive scaling for the sensory training. Before the product testing, we confirmed their evaluations were repeatable and reproducible on both individual and group-wises.
Thanks to the high motivation and engagement of the panelists, the sensory panel training and validations were completed smoothly. As a result, the sensory panel has moved to regular sensory testing.