The sensory properties of your product define the uniqueness of your brand. When a really loyal consumer experiences your product, they consider it to be their own product. When New Coke was introduced, the most frequent consumer complaint was “What have you done to my product?!” Iconic brands must deliver against consumer expectation, or risk breaking faith with their core customers.
The Sensory Challenge: Being sure of your own product
It’s amazing how many well-established companies have never determined what makes their product unique at the sensory level. In the 1980’s Marks & Spencer introduced sensory specification into their private label purchasing process. To this day, the leading retailers rely on their private label suppliers to establish sensory specifications that move beyond consumer liking to a standard of brand identity that defines the product. Brewers have learned the value of “trueness-to-type” in setting the sensory quality criteria for their products, not just an absence of faults. Yes! The liquid is beer. Maybe even a great beer. But is it what is supposed to be in that bottle?
The Sensory Solution
The main sensory analysis tool that helps us define sensory properties in an objective fashion is descriptive analysis. There are proprietary methods that have elevated descriptive analysis to an expensive art form. However, Compusense Feedback CalibrationTM , also referred to as FCMTM, was introduced in 2003 and has become the most efficient and effective method for training and maintaining proficient descriptive analysis panels.
By using immediate feedback to train panelists, it takes as little as two sessions to train panelists with individual onscreen guidance. Panelists input their response to specific attributes using a series of line scales. The proceeding screen displays their response in comparison to an established range. The feedback is immediate and accurate in identifying how close their response was to the target. The immediacy and accuracy of the feedback acts as reinforcement, subsequently expediting panelists’ learning curve and calibrating their responses to the target range. The collected data is consistently precise and repeatable, and will not only deliver your sensory gold standard profile, but will allow you to track any changes over time, including ingredient substitution and manufacturing location. Even if your company does not have descriptive panel, it pays to have a professional evaluation of your products using FCMTM. These definitive profiles will help you guide all new development and future expansions objectively.
The power of inexpensive and reliable descriptive sensory analysis is unmatched.
Compusense FCMTM blog:Produce superior results with panelist training with half the time and cost
Feedback Calibration: a training method for descriptive panels. Findlay, C.J., Castura, J.C., Lesschaeve, I. Food Quality and Preference, 2007, 18(2), 321-328.
Use of feedback calibration to reduce the training time for wine panels. Findlay, C.J., Castura, J.C. Schlich, P., Lesschaeve, I. Food Quality and Preference, 2006, 17(3-4), 266-276.