The food industry is exhibiting manifold growth; multiple brands are competing for a place on your plate. Recipe for sustained growth? A flavor that ‘delights’ the taste buds.
With millions riding on every new product, brands test out many variants before launch. But with more than 60% food products failing, pre-launch product validation and consumer research techniques need an immediate upgrade.
What is taste testing?
A taste test is a way to conduct market research for consumables. It helps understand a consumer’s taste buds, compare product variants and benchmark against competitors – all before actually launching the products in the market. This lets brands acquire insights into what taste appeals their target market and what they can skip investing time and resources on.
The old school taste testing methodology
Food brands have been conducting taste tests for a while now. The conventional method of taste testing includes inviting respondents to taste & rate multiple samples on attributes like the flavor, texture, feel, crunch, smell, look, aftertaste and more.
The catch? Results vary based on- How a sample was presented to the respondent? How were the questions worded? Were the translations accurate? Were the respondents able to articulate their recommendations correctly?
With more and more studies on consumer behavior validating the huge gap between ‘Perceived choice & Subconscious choice’; Blindfold Taste Tests started replacing the older approaches.
But why do these techniques still remain ineffective?
Both the approaches are marred by many shortcomings, leading to results which are far from reality.
- They are both prone to research bias
Being able to see the product or relate an aspect of it with one of the research elements, creates a bias in their choice.
- The attributes are very subjective
Things that relate to taste – flavor, texture, feel, crunch (if applicable), smell, look, aftertaste and more, are very subjective. Putting them in numbers is very difficult and they often end up being misinterpreted. A user may explain the attribute differently every time, leading to different inputs that lead to no concrete result.
- Ratings impact subsequent questions
For example, if a respondent rates a product 10, his answers to the subsequent questions in the survey will be relative to the rating he just provided.
- They cause a sensory overload
Sensory overload is often a problem when it comes to taste testing. Conscious thoughts get marred by the multiple layers of sensory inputs with clouds of conscious output. This only leads to the respondent getting overwhelmed or confused, and not being able to offer the right feedback to the brand.
The solution? Integrating EEG with taste testing.
When we ask for verbal feedback from consumers, the deeper subconscious response remains hidden – this the feedback that they are not able to articulate.
For instance, when we eat or drink something, our brain responds to the taste and smell of it along with the other sensory properties. The taste, smell, sight, touch and sound of what we eat or drink, sends messages to the brain. Each of these senses play a key role in the overall perception of the food.
With no verbal questioning, EEG removes any unconscious bias offering an unparalleled understanding of consumer behavior.
How is it done?
Real time measurement leaves no room for post facto rationalization.
Quick turn-around time and reports complete with actionable helps brands make better business decisions at crucial stages of product development.