Sensory profiling in conjunction with consumer rating data can be modelled to yield the relationship between the desirability (“Overall liking”) of a product and the sensory attributes. This reveals the importance of each attribute in enhancing the desirability of the product; information that product designers can use to improve products and make trade-off decisions.
In a quantitative research framework, target consumers rate products on a number of different attributes, including overall opinion. A typical question to assess taste for instance, would be worded as follows:
How much do you like the taste of this product?
Products should be tested blind (unbranded). Ideally, monadic in-use testing is recommended. Monadic, which means only one product is tested by each respondent, is relatively expensive, particularly if many products are to be tested.
Monadic testing is recommended because it eliminates interaction effects and biases, and results can be compared with previous monadic test results.
An alternative approach, Sequential Monadic, may be adopted where respondents try one product and rate it, move to another product and rate it, and then compare the two. Here the order sequence is usually randomized.
This approach is recommended when a forced comparison is required. In this case the rating of the product that was tried first is pure monadic and provides a measure for the initial response to the product.
Comparative testing, where a number of products are tried alongside by respondents, is also used when respondents are required to compare products.
Comparative testing differs from sequential monadic in that all samples in the assessment set are evaluated prior to giving a response.
Proto-Monadic testing is a variation of the monadic sequential approach. In this scheme, two products are tested by each person, one at a time, with a monadic measurement only on the product tried first. After the second product is tried, preference is measured, both on an overall basis and for specific attributes.
This approach is well suited for testing product changes and for competitive testing as it provides a strict single product measurement (monadic) as well as preference ratings.
Triangle tests are used where the intent is to verify whether a change in composition can be detected. This is required in case of cost reduction or a change of ingredients exercise. For instance, a soft drink manufacturer may be interested to know whether a reduction in the level of carbonation is noticeable or not.
In triangle tests, participants are asked to identify which two of three products (‘item A’, ‘item A’ and ‘item B’) are the same and which one is different. If the number of participants correctly identifying the different item is statistically significant, it is concluded that difference between item A and item B is perceivable by consumers.
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