Sensory panel tasting food

Track the quality of your products using benchmarking

19 December 2023 | Hkanhpa Sadan, Sensory Project Manager

Quality tracking is just one of the really useful applications of benchmarking that you may not often have come across. Benchmarking is an excellent, cost-effective way to get an ‘informed consumer’ perspective on your products, without the need to pay for input from real consumers.

What is benchmarking?

Benchmarking is completing a sensory evaluation of a selected product compared to similar, competitor products. Our service expands on this definition by providing sensory and quality feedback as well as guidance based on a consumer perspective.

We factor in market position and consumer expectations into our feedback.

A small panel of fully trained and experienced sensory assessors with a real passion for food will assess any type of product, either NPD samples or current products, from an informed consumer viewpoint. The members of the panel are screened for sensory acuity, trained on trends and the relevant product categories, are experienced with a wide variety of products, and conduct these assessments regularly.

The scores from their blind and unbiased sensory assessments are collated and an overall ‘eating enjoyment score’ is awarded. Once all the products within the group have been tested, the product packaging is revealed so that its identity and on-pack information can be discussed between the assessors. A comprehensive, detailed report is then created from all the comments made by the assessors, highlighting the key factors and general observations.

Benchmarking applications

  1. Routine benchmarking as part of a retailer or internal scheme – to ensure that your product is performing as expected, and to look for opportunities for improvement to gain an edge over your competition.
  2. Understand key differences between your product and those of your competitors.
  3. New product development is a costly exercise, and we can offer several cost-effective methods to avoid wasting time and money during development, and especially by using benchmarking to keep an eye on the competition.
  4. Product renovation is another opportunity to leverage valuable insights from benchmarking, in a similar way to the approach for NPD – by comparing the new /reformulated product against both the current version and competitor products.
  5. Complaint investigations often lead our clients to use our benchmarking service to determine whether or not there is indeed a cause for concern – by using our panel to assess a number of samples from / relevant to the production run(s) associated with complaints.
  6. Quality tracking to regularly monitor the quality of your product.

Benchmarking applications

Quality tracking is – like it sounds – using benchmarking to track / monitor the quality of your product over time. For example, by conducting regular monthly assessments on selected products.

The assessments of your product can be made in comparison to the outcomes of previous assessments and in comparison to competitor product performance. This could be to monitor deviations in quality, to keep an eye on (or to better understand) seasonal changes, and to also track the quality of your competitors’ products (and track your product’s performance against them).

Benefit from benchmarking and beat your competition

Across our business, we have more than 200 scientists and technical experts collaborating on a wide range of projects every day. Our sensory panels and sensory scientists have the experience and technical insights to support the success of your products.

We can characterise the sensory and quality attributes of your product to guide product development, shelf-life testing and extension, quality control, and taint troubleshooting and prevention.

Our assessment services range from simple quality assessment checks right through to full, descriptive mapping / profiling of your products in comparison with your competitors or other products, and have a wide range of valuable applications and benefits.

How can we help you?

If you’d like to find out more about applying benchmarking to your products, contact our support team to find out how we can help.

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Sensory testing and Consumer insights

For more on what we offer in this area, visit the service pages.

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