Optimise your product
tests and obtain more operational and richer information
Choice of the test location
The essential objective of a blind product test is to
obtain from consumers a measure of their "overall hedonic
evaluation" of a product, and in as far as is possible,
understand the reasons for this evaluation.
However, the analytical capacities of the "naïve
consumer" must not be exceeded. Due to a lack of experience
and vocabulary, consumers are sometimes incapable of explaining
with precision their overall evaluation.
Conversely, limiting consumer questioning to just their overall
opinion seems a shame: Interviewing "naïve"
consumers can often determine with precision the main strengths
and weaknesses of a product, and potential ways of improving
But the greatest care must be taken when deciding on the technique
to employ, that is to say:
The choice of method (test location and procedure).
The sample structure (size, characteristics and quality).
And the construction of the questionnaire (choice of
the product descriptors).
Similar conditions to consumption reality
Test duration and quantity consumed sufficient,
with no risk of saturation
Means the opinions of the other members of
the household can be taken into account
More easily dispersed sample
Timings and costs are often greater than
for in-hall tests (although the use of online interviews
and the dispatch of products by post is tending
to make home tests cheaper and cheaper)
Fieldwork less visible more quality checks
Allows for artificial test designs (masked
variables, control over implementation)
Possibility to focus on certain characteristics
Allows for comparative approaches
Short timings and low costs (as long as penetration
of the target sought > 10%) )
Laboratory situation respondent's references
Products tested just once and in small quantities
Risk of saturation if several products
Choice of the test procedure
Several test procedures exist and
the choice of the most relevant one is obviously essential.
This choice must be made taking into account the products
and objectives. The 2 most common alternatives are a pure
monadic procedure (a single product is tested by each respondent)
and a sequential monadic procedure (2 products tested successively,
with a rotation in the order of test).
In our experience, the monadic approach often proves
the most relevant for it:
Allows for an evaluation that is close to reality,
expressed in relation to an implicit reference: The respondent's
Provides "pure" results, unbiased
by the effects of a sequential evaluation (in which the
2nd product is evaluated vs. the 1st).
Means the possibility to build up reliable and rich
databanks, which enable in-depth statistical analyses
and help with interpreting the results by capitalising on
A typical questionnaire
An overall hedonic evaluation using a semantic scale
or an overall score.
An open-ended question that enables the respondent
to spontaneously explain their feelings.
And a positioning question on several attributes
covering the different organoleptic dimensions of the product
(appearance, taste, consistency
The list of attributes on which the product is evaluated
must be carefully and thoroughly thought out in order to
make the study more operational. This list should enable
reliable information to be collected, that is to
say reproducible, sensitive and discriminating information
(thereby highlighting the differences in performance between
the products), that is explanatory of overall evaluation.
To maximise the chances of obtaining relevant information,
it should be ensured that the attributes used are, on one
hand, comprehensible by all and consensual, and on
the other hand, exhaustive, that is to say they cover
all the dimensions perceptible by consumers.
The choice of the attributes should ideally form the object
of a specific piece of research, something which is unfortunately
often evaded. This piece of research usually takes place
in two successive stages:
An initial qualitative approach to generate descriptors,
bringing to light all the vocabulary used by consumers to
describe the product.
Followed by a second quantitative stage, to
end up with a reduced list of relevant descriptors for the
product being tested.
from monadic tests
observation: Current practices as regards product
tests are not entirely satisfactory; many tests are still
carried out without any research into the methodology,
on a piecemeal basis, with no capitalisation on experience.
Databanks are a real tool for piloting and monitoring
a portfolio of products and mean a more in-depth analysis
of the performances of the products tested. Interpretation
of the results takes place from the perspective of
previous studies. In order for them to be efficient,
databanks need to be constructed in a homogenous product
category as norms differ depending on the product universe.
The acceptance threshold for overall evaluation varies
from one category to another so that a score considered
excellent in one market might prove mediocre in another