T garage Launch Sensory Research
DR. CATHY GAIR
Director of Research & Sensory Science
An incredible experience with food and drink is something to get passionate about and has come to the fore in the last couple of years. For many, food is so much more than fuel. It can provide an immersive spine-tingling new experience, pushing boundaries, or deliver comfort through familiarity, memories of childhood, and rituals.
Our sensory experience with food is fundamental to our health and well-being, both physical and mental. So what is it about food and drink that makes them so special?
Food and drink take us on a multi-sensory journey that engages all five of our senses, some of which are forgotten; when was the last time you thought about listening to your food?
You would be surprised how important hearing is to enjoyment. Sensory perception of products is fundamental to success, whether a commodity or something new to world. Success goes well beyond appeal, requiring an understanding of the usage context, consumer motivations, and what it needs to deliver to fit seamlessly into consumers’ daily lives.
It is exciting to bring Sensory Research to T garage to add to the strong innovation research portfolio, given its contribution to success.
Sensory research is essential to understand how people perceive food and drink, but it is about so much more! Our surroundings influence our senses and, in turn, significantly impact product perception.
Background ambience, music or noise
The use of a tablecloth and dim lighting increases the appeal of food, the amount eaten and length of the meal.
Colour of the crockery or container in which food is served
Did you know coffee tastes sweeter and less acidic from a green cup than a pink cup?
Feel of the cup, bottle or cutlery against our lips
Do bamboo forks and spoons make anyone else’s blood run cold?
For most people, the idea of sensory research conjures up images of white lab coats in taste testing laboratories giving people products on white plates, bowls or cups labelled with 3 digit codes. This is a necessary and fundamental aspect of sensory research that T garage provides. Controlled laboratory-based methods are essential to answer many sensory objectives where strict control is needed, for example, ingredient changes, determination of shelf life, or when the amount of product for testing is limited.
However, sensory research sometimes needs to get out of the lab to provide external validity. As seen from the above examples, consumers can evaluate food differently in a lab than in the real world. Putting innovation into a realistic context helps provide understanding of how a product will fit into consumers’ lives and if there are any barriers to use and adoption.
T garage offers qualitative and quantitative sensory methodologies to answer client objectives from up-front exploration to full market mix and post-launch testing. Everything is already in place to run sensory qual, central location tests, and in-home or in-situ testing in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and Brisbane.
With over 25 years’ experience in sensory research on both the client and the manufacturer sides, I have watched sensory research evolve and grow. It has become a vital piece of the bigger picture with enhanced value when integrated with other stages of research.
As sensory research evolves, T garage will bring relevant new thinking to our clients, use it to push boundaries, and see where sensory research can take us.
Please get in touch, if you’d like to know more.