May 12, 2021
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Developing a Sensory Profile for Flavored Alcohol Beverage Products

Objective

Our client would like a quantitative profile of each of their flavored alcohol beverage products and an overall summary of the product characteristics.

Methodology

What We Learned

We developed a product profile for each of the three flavors. Here’s an example of one of them:

And here is a visual representation for the three flavors:

For the complete PDF, click here.

April 14, 2021
by ISR
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Descriptive Analysis to Qualify Ingredient Suppliers

The Challenge

Our client would like to qualify gelatin from new suppliers but needs to be sure they can do so without changing the sensory profile of their bars. Additionally, the current gelatin source imparts a perceptible flavor in the finished product, which makes identifying a replacement source difficult.

The team is currently exploring several sources and blends in hopes of achieving a sensory profile as close to current as possible. The qualification will be made for a 50% replacement (Variant 1) and 100% replacement (Variant 2).

Methodology

This study was conducted with our trained sensory panel. Samples were ranked in intensity for each attribute and scores were given on a numerical scale.

Mahalanobis Analysis was used to calculate the overall differences between the samples for the ranking test followed by an Analysis of Variance with LSD’s mean separation among attributes at 95% confidence level.

What We Learned

The Control Samples were similar in sensory profile with some differences noted in Nutty flavor, Metallic taste, Denseness, and Dry mouth.

The Variants were close to the Control ranges in flavor and texture attributes with differences found in malt flavor, nutty flavor, metallic taste, denseness, dry mouth and sweet aftertaste.

Both 50% and 100% replacements had minimal impact on the overall sensory profile and fell within the tested Control sensory variability.

The gelatin replacements did not change any key flavor notes or impart new flavor or off-notes. The noted differences are likely not noticeable to the consumer.

For the complete PDF, click here.

March 17, 2021
by ISR
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Shelf-life Testing & Descriptive Profiling for Nutritional Beverages

Objective

Our client wanted to measure sensory attributes for various time points for all flavors of their nutritional shake product line. They also wanted to develop a full descriptive profile for their Orange Pineapple nutritional shake.

Flavors Evaluated

Methodology

We conducted the following tests and also created the lexicon for each of the flavors in the product line.

  • 30 Days: Formula 1 v. Formula 1x, ANOVA data collection
  • 60, 90, 120 Days: Formula 1x, Consensus data collection
  • 6 Months: Formula 1x, Consensus data collection
  • T-test data collection
Example Lexicon for Orange Pineapple Flavor

What We Did

We assessed Flavor, Aroma, Aftertaste, and Texture attributes at the 30-day and 6-month marks for each of the four flavors. Here’s an example of the aftertaste and texture attributes:

What We Learned

We identified how the sensory profiles changed over time for each of the flavors. Here’s an example of the Orange Pineapple flavor:

For common attributes, we determined that all products continue to deliver similarly for flavor, aroma intensity, aftertaste, and mouthfeel attributes.

For the complete PDF, click here.

February 10, 2021
by ISR
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Using Descriptive Analysis for a Full Production Rollout

Our client is launching a new grape-flavored chew. Concept test results show this idea has superstar potential, and this product might bring in new buyers to the brand.

Benchtop samples were developed and tested with consumers to identify if there were opportunities to optimize the product. Then, a batch of pilot plant trial samples was produced.

Usually, texture differences are observed in pilot plant samples when compared to benchtop samples, therefore our objective is to compare the sensory profile of the ‘benchtop’ samples with the ‘pilot plant trial’ samples and understand if there are differences and if any optimizations are needed.

Methodology

We conducted Descriptive Analysis with our panel of sensory experts.

Data was collected using t-test. The t-test is a method that determines whether two populations are statistically different from each other.

Our lexicon training encompassed several attributes, such as aroma, texture in mouth, taste, flavor and aftertaste.

What We Learned

There are no differences detected between the Control – Benchtop and Test – Pilot samples. Here’s a typical chart we use to illustrate these findings:


For the PDF, click here.

January 13, 2021
by ISR
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An “Overflow” Sensory Panel for Sensory Research Teams

Are you a sensory research team in need of an “overflow” testing panel?  We can help!  We offer both consumer and sensory research panels which are available for your use – whether that is for a single project or for an on-going need. 

Many times, our clients have their own employee panels, but having an external resource can be helpful in meeting deadlines – especially when so many people are working virtually or when teams become overloaded and need to offload their overflow work.

We will execute to your testing protocol and provide the data in the format you require.

Here’s an example of a typical “overflow” project. This one is for our client who has their own employee panel, but needed assistance when their team was working from home:

October 14, 2020
by ISR
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In-Person versus Remote Sensory Research: Results Comparison for Pain Patches

Our client was interested in conducting a Pilot test for at-home application and 24-hour wear assessment of pain relieving patches before fully committing to at-home testing. Four of the six patches used in a Previous (on site) study were used in this Pilot test, so that results of the Pilot test could be compared to the Previous study.

Our objective was to compare the performance of patches applied and evaluated in the Pilot test (remote) for failure, adhesion, maceration, and
residue against the performance of the patches in the Previous
(on site) study.

What We Did

What We Learned

All measurements were comparable between the remote sensory research and the in-person sensory research findings:

  • time to failure
  • average wear time
  • maceration
  • adhesion side
  • adhesion tab
  • residue

Conclusions & Recommendations

We proceeded with the remote sensory research work and identified a critical success factor – training of panelists through small group sessions to ensure adherence to process and protocol.

Here is the complete case study.

September 23, 2020
by ISR
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Round-table Tasting & Product Screening: The Basics

Need to know which products to continue developing?

We use our trained sensory panel to test the product. The panel provides detailed feedback on the differences between the various options.

At the end of the project, you will know which products best meet your marketing goals, so you can focus your R&D efforts and more clearly articulate your product’s appeal.

Round-table Testing and Product Screening can be used for most product categories:

Food
Beverage
Beauty
Personal Care
Household Care
Packaging
Automotive

August 19, 2020
by ISR
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Descriptive Analysis & Claims Research

Did you know that one key area for sensory research is around claims? Often, our clients utilize our research findings to be confident that they can make a particular claim in their marketing and packaging materials. This was the thinking in this case study with our client who manufactures throat lozenges.

Background

Our client, a confectionery manufacturer, wanted to develop a milder version of their current product for consumers seeking low intensity lozenges. In addition, they wanted supportive data to make the “milder taste” claim on the product package.

Methodology

We used Descriptive Analysis to evaluate 2 products — the original mint lozenge and the re-formulated mint lozenge. Our 12 panelists from a trained descriptive panel evaluated each of the lozenges in our Harrison, NY sensory booths. Training was held on key attribute intensities: Overall Total Impact, Overall Flavor, and Cooling. An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) with Tukey’s means separation was used with 95% confidence level to understand attribute differences among samples.

Results

Our findings indicated that our client could confidently claim that their new mint lozenge was milder in taste than the current product. Here’s an example of the data we provided:

July 22, 2020
by ISR
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Descriptive Analysis for Product Improvements

One area that sensory research can help with is in understanding and quantifying product enhancements. In this case study, our client, a consumer healthcare manufacturer, wanted to improve the swallow-ability of one of its pills.

Background

Our client wanted to renovate its Pill A Triple Strength base business by applying an easy swallow coating to all Triple Strength tablets. Difficulty in swallowing the pills is one of the top consumer complaints on the Pill A business, due to the large pill size of Triple Strength. A new coating technology allows for an easier to swallow application and an overall enhanced consumer experience. A flag will be included on front panel for about six months either referring to “New! Easy Swallow Coating” or “New! Easier to Swallow Coating”.

Objective

The primary objective of this study is to understand if the new slip coating on Pill A Triple Strength makes the pills easier to swallow when compared to the Current Pill (A).

Methodology

Our trained panelists participated in the Descriptive Analysis methodology. We looked at 5 key attributes that defined the experience of swallowing, and a t-test analysis at 95% confidence level was used to compare the Control to the Coated Prototype for each tablet size: 

  • Surface Shine (None/Matte-High)
  • Off-note Intensity (None-High)
  • Slipperiness in the mouth (None-High)
  • Stickiness in the mouth (None-High)
  • Effort to Swallow (Easy- Difficult)

Results

Our research determined that the new coating technology contributed to significant ease of swallowing of the pill. The New Slip Coated Prototype is significantly easier to swallow than the Control. Additionally, the coating provided a slippery smooth experience in the mouth and lowered off-note intensity. Here’s an example of the data we presented:

June 24, 2020
by ISR
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How We Make Virtual Sensory Research Work: 5 Ingredients

We’ve been successfully conducting virtual sensory research for several months now, and many clients are asking what’s our secret sauce?  And, can we make it work for them?  An individual consult is best for determining applicability, but here are the key ingredients to consider:

Choose the right fit.  Some types of sensory research simply work better than others in a virtual setting. If you need a high level of control, such as in benchmarking and drivers of liking, then virtual sensory research can be challenging.  However, for research where there’s a bit of flexibility – think process changes, ingredient changes, quality improvements, even discrimination tests – these can be conducted successfully via remote sensory research.  

Give yourself some lead time.  Connecting virtually may be near instantaneous, but conducting research virtually requires some time.  Products needs to be shipped to our sensory facility, then separated and repacked individually.  Application instructions and other items are also packaged and then couriers are scheduled.

Think about the tools.  In a lab setting, we can control various elements (i.e., oven temperature, skin cleansing, the level of mixing). In remote research, we need to provide the tools which afford us an enhanced level of control – hello, food thermometers, soap, and blenders. It’s important to think through the application or preparation process and provide the additions that ensure consistency in the test process.

Step-up the training. We provide significantly more communication and detail than would normally be necessary.  We go beyond paper or verbal instructions to leverage live video where we can demonstrate proper application or preparation in real time so panelists can ask us to repeat or clarify the protocol.

Make it personal.  We conduct individual or small-group training rather than training in a large group setting. This encourages dialog throughout the process and ensures a more detailed approach to panel training.

So, those are our key ingredients. Please reach out and let’s see if we can make our secret sauce work for you!