Calling Time: Dynamic Sensory Methods
By Peter Burgess – 14 September 2016
Food and beverage product reformulation and development, especially that linked to 'Health & Wellness', should take into consideration not only consumer taste acceptability but also in-mouth texture and physiological effects such as feelings of fullness and digestive comfort, and importantly emotional rewards attached to the consumption experience.
Understanding temporal aspects of the consumption experience provides an important perspective on whether the product is delivering against the consumer's targeted 'Need State', that is the motivation for consumption.
A temporal perspective on the food and drink product consumption experience needs to consider a number of interrelated stages. These can consist of appearance, in-hand texture, aroma, front of mouth, mid and rear of mouth, aftertaste and after effects. The stages must work coherently to produce the desired emotional response.
For example, appearance is important in creating expectations around the anticipated product experience (see previous blog 'Integrating the Packaging and Product Experience in Food and Beverages'), while the initial aroma top notes provide not only an indicator of freshness, for example, but can also trigger appetite based on learnt experiences and emotions.
Front of mouth potentially forms the initial judgement, which is often associated with stimulation and excitement. The crumbliness or crispness of the first bite combined with an impactful taste hit creates a powerful first impression of the product. Mid and rear of mouth is where more complex messages emerge. Flavours in this area tend to be richer, released more slowly, more indulgent, calming and relaxing, while aftertaste and after effects are critical to the enjoyment of the product and likely to drive repeat consumption.
Within the sensory branding tool kit, we utilise a relatively new Temporal Check-All-That-Apply (TCATA) method to assess how the sensory properties of products evolve during the consumption experience.
In this method our highly trained sensory assessors check or uncheck attributes whenever applicable as the product is consumed. Multiple attributes can be selected simultaneously, which permits description of sensations that arise both sequentially or concurrently.
TCATA can also be used with consumers where, for example, 'multi-bite' assessments can be conducted to approximate real life consumption situations.
The results from TCATA can provide detailed insights into the temporal properties of a series of products and differences between their dynamic sensory profiles, which can be linked to variations in flavour and texture formulations.
TCATA data can be augmented with other temporal measures such as TDS (temporal dominance of sensations) to assess intensity for specific attributes. TCATA results can also be mapped to consumers’ desired emotional outcomes of the consumption experience.
This approach, combined with insights on the physiological, psychological, practical and emotional benefits of the product gained from other methods, enables Campden BRI to provide advice and guidance to members on how to develop an effective sensory branding system. These approaches are increasingly important to enable brands to engage with consumers in a differentiated way.
If you want to find out more about how sensory branding can support your product development initiatives then please do get in touch.