Sensory Profiling Market Research

Sensory Market Research

In the ever-evolving world of market research, the techniques used to understand consumers’ preferences are evolving too. One such emerging methodology is sensory profiling market research and by understanding how consumers perceive and interact with products across various senses, companies can develop and market their products at all levels – including a sensory level.

Understanding Sensory Profiling Market Research

Sensory profiling market research isn’t just about determining if a product is good or bad. It is a method designed to decode the multitude of sensory experiences and perceptions associated with a product. It involves assessing products using all five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound… But what sets it apart from other research methodologies?

This new market research methodology employs trained professionals (sensory panels) who have undergone extensive training to calibrate their senses, enabling them to discern and articulate the smallest differences in sensory attributes. For instance, in the world of fine wines or gourmet chocolates, these panels can distinguish between subtle flavor notes, textures, and aromas that might be indistinguishable to an average consumer.

Moreover, sensory profiling market research requires specialized environments with advanced tools and software to document and analyze the sensory data, making the process more efficient and accurate. When combined with traditional consumer feedback, the insights derived from sensory profiling market research offer a holistic understanding of the consumer experience. 

Why and when do you use Sensory Profiling Market Research?

Sensory Research, defined as Eye Tracking, Biometrics and Galvanic Skin Response methods to respondent testing delivers more “truthful” answers versus the traditional cognitive survey methods.

How does Sensory Research differ from Traditional Market Research?

Traditional cognitive market research methods include Face-to-Face interviews, telephone interviews, online surveys, Focus Groups, and In-Depth interviews. While traditional methods will deliver the consumers’ response, they may not reveal the consumers’ sensory responses to your products. This is not to say that the consumers are not being truthful in their responses, we are suggesting that the responses from sensory research can augment traditional research with a broader picture of the consumer.

Here’s How it Works

Sensory Market Research tests the brain waves, heart rates and skin responses to your products. Through this sensory research, we are able to get a broader picture of consumers’ responses to your products and services. We can deliver not only the data, but also heat maps which are valuable in determining the product features, pricing, packaging and positioning of your products in domestic and global markets.

Trends in the Sensory Profiling Market Research

Sensory profiling market research is growing fast and there are several vital trends that are shaping the industry such as:

  • Integration of Technology: AI and machine learning are making inroads into sensory profiling market research. These tools can analyze vast amounts of data quickly, identifying patterns and nuances that might escape human evaluators. Moreover, tools like virtual reality are being used to replicate and study sensory experiences in controlled environments.
  • Emphasis on Emotional Connect: This market research is increasingly focusing on the emotional connections products establish with consumers. Understanding these emotional triggers can aid businesses in crafting more engaging and memorable product experiences.
  • Cross-sensory Evaluations: Instead of isolating sensory evaluations to just one sense, there’s a growing trend of cross-sensory evaluations. This approach considers how multiple senses interact and influence one another, providing a more holistic understanding of the consumer experience.
  • Personalized Sensory Experiences: As consumers increasingly seek personalized experiences, sensory profiling market research is evolving to map individual sensory preferences. This could influence personalized product recommendations in industries like perfumery or gastronomy.
  • Enhanced Training and Certification: Recognizing the intricate nature of sensory evaluations, there’s a growing emphasis on rigorous training and certification for panelists involved in sensory profiling market research. This ensures consistency, reliability, and precision in the results obtained.

Opportunities in the Sensory Profiling Market Research 

The emergence of sensory profiling market research has unearthed numerous avenues for businesses to explore, innovate, and redefine their offerings. Here’s a detailed look into its main opportunities:

  • Product Development and Refinement: Market research offers direct feedback about how consumers perceive a product’s sensory attributes. This data is critical for businesses, guiding them in tweaking product formulations or new designs.
  • Diversified Product Portfolios: Sensory insights can reveal niche sensory preferences, allowing businesses to diversify their product ranges. For instance, a food company might discover a segment of consumers that prefers spicier or more aromatic flavors, leading to the development of a new product line.
  • Innovative Marketing Campaigns: With the insights from sensory profiling market research, brands can craft marketing campaigns that appeal directly to consumers’ sensory preferences, leading to more effective and impactful campaigns.
  • Exploration of New Markets: Sensory preferences vary across regions, cultures, and demographics. By understanding these variations, businesses can tailor their offerings when entering new markets or target demographics more precisely.
  • Cost Efficiency: Sensory profiling can also be a tool for cost management. For example, if research shows that consumers cannot differentiate between a costly ingredient and a more affordable alternative in a product, businesses can make cost-effective substitutions without compromising on perceived quality.
  • Real-time Adaptability: With modern sensory profiling technologies, businesses can get almost real-time feedback on product launches or changes, allowing them to adapt swiftly to market feedback.

Challenges in the Sensory Profiling Market Research

Despite the wide range of opportunities presented by market research, businesses must also be aware of its challenges – and here’s a breakdown of the main challenges:

  • Standardization: One of the primary concerns in sensory profiling market research is the lack of standardization across panels and methodologies. Different panels may have divergent ways of perceiving and rating sensory attributes, making it challenging to compare results across studies.

  • Recruitment and Training: Establishing a consistent and reliable panel of testers is essential for effective sensory profiling market research. However, recruiting suitable panelists, ensuring they have no sensory impairments, and then training them can be time-consuming and expensive.

  • Subjectivity: While trained panelists aim to provide objective assessments, personal biases, and preferences can sometimes skew results. Because this market research is so subjective, it is difficult to obtain consistent results from multiple studies, which can lead to confusing data with varying outcomes.

  • Time-Consuming Process: Comprehensive sensory profiling can be a lengthy process, particularly if it involves extensive panelist training, multiple sessions, or numerous samples that would present a complex and time-consuming process.

  • Cost: Comprehensive sensory profiling, especially when employing state-of-the-art technologies or extensive panels, can be costly. Small and medium enterprises may find it challenging to allocate sufficient budget towards such research.

  • Cultural Differences: As businesses expand globally, understanding sensory preferences across different cultures becomes pivotal. However, this also brings the challenge of navigating and understanding the diverse sensory inclinations of various consumer segments.

  • Keeping Up with Technological Advancements: The sensory profiling market research field is rapidly evolving, with new technologies and methodologies emerging regularly. Businesses need to stay updated to remain competitive, which can be challenging and resource-intensive.

About SIS International

SIS International offers Quantitative, Qualitative, and Strategy Research. We provide data, tools, strategies, reports and insights for decision-making. We conduct interviews, surveys, focus groups and many other Market Research methods and approaches. Contact us for your next Market Research project.