Overview

In the product development process, testing of product tastes and likings to assess consumers' acceptance is important for food and beverage manufacturers. For flavour houses, this is no exception. Typically, testing of a product flavour among consumers is conducted using a structured questionnaire.

Product flavour testing is challenged by the ability of consumers to describe flavours. This is especially so in Asia, where consumers seem to have a limited vocabulary in describing flavours. Further, consumers in some Asian countries tend to be relatively reserved and polite in their responses. Flavour testing using hedonic liking questions and attributes rating scales may lack sensitivity, making it difficult to discriminate across top scoring flavours. Too many parameters may actually be a deterrent for potential customer's choice or showing satisfaction.

Traditional research approaches focus on the rational, slow and deliberate brain responses. In addition, behavioural studies have shown that humans rely on the faster, non-conscious brain responses to make decisions. Therefore, behavioural research tools are more necessary than ever, as consumers do not select rationally while their subconscious minds are involved1.