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Making Use of Existing Knowledge

“Knowledge is power.” – Francis Bacon. This is what sensory analysis is all about. Regardless of the product, understanding what people really think about your products is invaluable. For example let’s discuss potato chips.

You’ll find potato chips in virtually every place where food is sold. Let’s say you’re trying to determine which potato chips your business should stock or sell. Without sensory analysis, how would one go about solving that problem? Guessing what consumers want is much different from knowing. For example, did you know that when it comes to potato chips, “crispness” is the primary factor when consumers make a selection? How could we know that without existing knowledge? It would be impossible without sensory testing.

sensoryanalysisYes, knowing that tasters overall ranking of chips is nearly exactly in line with the crunch factor rating changes the decision making process entirely. Saltiness is also a very important factor; the most popular chip brand is rated nearly 35% saltier than the next closest competitor. Existing knowledge changes the game when you learn that potato chip flavor, as it turns out, is not as important as you would initially think. Testers found that traditional potato chips are so thin that it’s hard to imagine them being filled with flavor, particularly when they are well saturated with oil. Existing knowledge tells us that as far as most consumers are concerned, the ideal potato chip is really just a vehicle to deliver salt, grease and crunch to us.

How does sensory analysis yield this knowledge? Potato chips are tasted blind by a panel of real consumers who are asked to rate the chips on measured scales in different categories. For example, potato flavor would be a category. Do the potato chips really taste like potato, or do they taste like plastic or cardboard? Does the flavor of the grease overwhelm the potatoes? Then you have saltiness. Are the chips properly seasoned? Do they completely lack salt, or are they wading in it? Then there is the crunch. How crisp are the chips when you bite down on them? Do they have the quiet crunch or are they as loud as a thousand bags of chips being crumpled simultaneously? Then there is an overall rating. How do all of the various attribute factors come together? Are the chips any good? Would you serve them to your kids at a pool party or bring them camping or eat them at a restaurant or buy them at a grocery store?

Do you want to know what brand is the winner? To get this existing knowledge you would have to work with a company like Contract Testing for sensory analysis. The winner when it comes to potato chips, or many other categories for that matter, often wins by a landslide. It’s sometimes hard to tell how much of it has to do with our childhood appreciation of the classic chip. How much of it is true quality? Nevertheless, when people think of their ideal model of a potato chip, testing reveals that there is a clear idea of what consumers want. Sensory analysis provides existing knowledge that proves it definitively. If you would like to know the winner in this category or any other category, please call us and we can help you!

This article is free information from Contract Testing Inc., an established leader in sensory product research and consumer product research for the food, beverage, and (QSR) quick service restaurant industries throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more about the complete scope of product research services, please call 1-905-456-0783 or visit us onlineContractTesting.com.