June 24, 2020
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!