Top Tips for Sensory Testing

Our sensory testing unit has been very popular recently, having been featured on The One Show, the Victoria Derbyshire Show,  Watchdog Test House and BBC Radio Kent! This has resulted in a massive increase in the buzz around our sensory testing and the amazing insight it can provide about your products. We thought we’d share some of our wealth of knowledge on the subject of getting the best out of your sensory testing. Here are our top tips!

 

 

GET THE BEST FROM PEOPLE

 

Your sensory panel must be rigorously screened to ensure you’ve got people who can actually taste, touch & smell. They will have to undergo tests for basic tastes (salt, sweet, neutral, sour, bitter and umami) along with a wealth of others, such as scaling and difference testing.  Most panels include only people with the highest sensory acuity – representing around 10-15% of the population! Not only that, they must have the vocabulary to describe what they’re tasting or touching, and be able to work with others in a team.

Sensory panellists

TRAIN THEM

 

Once you’ve got your panel you need to train them! Your panel should almost work together like a machine, so they all agree on the same scales and vocabulary. Ideally a new panellist joining an existing panel should work alongside them for c. 6 months before being fully incorporated and their results used.

ENSURE YOU HAVE A SUITABLE VENUE

 

Where you do sensory testing is nearly as important as your panel. Ideally you would have one room for vocabulary generation and another for scoring of products, alongside a large preparation area. The scoring room should consist of individual booths or partitioned tables with a comfortable working environment, ideally equipped with suitable data capture systems for maximum efficiency. It is also useful to have hatches through from the preparation area, red lights for masking the colour of products and a strong air conditioning system to remove odours quickly. Our sensory testing unit comes with all of these essential features!

 

Marketing Sciences Sensory Unit

 

Of course, there are lots more things that go into insightful sensory research, but the key things are the people and the venue. We are always on hand to discuss your sensory needs, whether it’s training your team on sensory work and ‘testing their taste buds’, to consultancy regarding your own panel, or completing sensory research for you. Just pick up the phone or email.

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Dr Debbie Parker
01959 563214
Article date - 18/11/2015
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