Sensory Testing with Consumers

Facial tissue paper

“We heard about Sensory evaluations. But what can sensory evaluations do for our product development?“

We answered this question by offering sensory workshops for our clients and sensory tests with consumers to meet their needs.

The Context

Our client, a consumer goods company, wanted to assess how consumers perceive facial tissue papers and what improvements their products needed to win against the competitors in the Japanese market.

The Challenges

#1. Interests in sensory testing, but no experiences

First, the client asked us what sensory testing can do for their product development. They were interested in sensory testing because consumer surveys and focus group interviews did not direct what characteristics in the product should be improved. But they never conducted sensory testing at all.

#2. Time constraints

Our client also had time constraints for the product improvements for the product launch onto the market. Namely, we had only less than 1.5 months to complete the study. Unfortunately, this means that we were not able to recruit many consumers for large-scale testing.

The Solution Approach

 #1. Preparaton: Sensory Knowledge-Sharing

Before starting the project, we conducted sensory workshops for the client team about the fundamentals of sensory evaluations. We also conducted pilot sensory tests together to have the client experience the tests.

#2. Sensory Testing: Consumers with Product Differentiation and Descriptive Skills

To minimize the base size of sensory testing, we pre-screened consumers who could describe details in product attributes in usage. For example, the selected consumers told how their hands feel when taking the tissue paper from the box and rubbing it. Furthermore, we checked if they can detect product differences correctly or not. Then we conducted sensory testing on test products among the selected consumers. We completed the sensory testing on more than ten products in 1.5 months by schedule management and collaboration with recruiters.

The Outcome

The clients used the results to modify their products quickly. In addition, they regularly conducted sensory testing with this method to check and guide product development for the market.

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