I was recently asked this question at Pangborn. Several times! Sensory research, it seems, is beginning to take hold in the apparel industry. Sensory research, however, is not new to apparel. Several large athletic wear companies had have their own sensory research departments for many years.
So, how to use it? There are two types of sensory tests which lend themselves to apparel research: discrimination and descriptive testing.
In the non-finished good form (i.e. when changing fabrics), discrimination testing is useful because consumer respondents or discrimination panelists assess the differences between fabrics, comparing such qualities as softness, stretch, and perceived durability. Fabric swatches can be placed against the face, as well as touched by hand, to make these assessments.
In the finished good form (i.e., when launching a new product or changing an existing one), descriptive testing (often called “fingerprinting”) is used with a group of trained descriptive panelists for a detailed analysis of wearability, identifying key apparel strengths and limitations.
But, why use it? Sensory testing is significantly more affordable and faster than consumer testing, making it appropriate for:
- New product introductions
- Smaller product lines
- Product adjustments
- Fabric changes
- New supplier assessments
Pricing on our Flash Discrimination Testing starts at $3000.
For a case study on the usage of sensory research in the apparel industry, just contact us.