We’ve been successfully conducting virtual sensory research for several months now, and many clients are asking what’s our secret sauce? And, can we make it work for them? An individual consult is best for determining applicability, but here are the key ingredients to consider:
Choose the right fit. Some types of sensory research simply work better than others in a virtual setting. If you need a high level of control, such as in benchmarking and drivers of liking, then virtual sensory research can be challenging. However, for research where there’s a bit of flexibility – think process changes, ingredient changes, quality improvements, even discrimination tests – these can be conducted successfully via remote sensory research.
Give yourself some lead time. Connecting virtually may be near instantaneous, but conducting research virtually requires some time. Products needs to be shipped to our sensory facility, then separated and repacked individually. Application instructions and other items are also packaged and then couriers are scheduled.
Think about the tools. In a lab setting, we can control various elements (i.e., oven temperature, skin cleansing, the level of mixing). In remote research, we need to provide the tools which afford us an enhanced level of control – hello, food thermometers, soap, and blenders. It’s important to think through the application or preparation process and provide the additions that ensure consistency in the test process.
Step-up the training. We provide significantly more communication and detail than would normally be necessary. We go beyond paper or verbal instructions to leverage live video where we can demonstrate proper application or preparation in real time so panelists can ask us to repeat or clarify the protocol.
Make it personal. We conduct individual or small-group training rather than training in a large group setting. This encourages dialog throughout the process and ensures a more detailed approach to panel training.
So, those are our key ingredients. Please reach out and let’s see if we can make our secret sauce work for you!