Key Takeaways

Conducting product testing with children requires special considerations.

  • A child-friendly hedonic scale, such as the 9-pt. super good-super bad scale developed by P&K Research, is recommended for ages 6-12 in place of the adult version of the scale.
  • Children ages 4-6 are best interviewed one-on-one by their parent or guardian.
  • Global research conducted by P&K has shown that in some countries the presence of the parent or guardian in the room during central location testing improves the child’s performance in the test.
  • Adult product diagnostic questions, such as just-about-right scales, need to be simplified for children, and alternative scaling approaches may yield more clear direction for product improvement.

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Go Deeper

The P&K hedonic scale for children is widely used in the industry and has been shown to perform better than a variety of other child-oriented scales, including the traditional “smiley-face” scale. However, with the universality and popularity of Emojis, pictorial scales using these emoticons are becoming acceptable alternatives to verbally anchored scales.

With children age 4-6, using the parent or guardian as the interviewer resulted in better discrimination in ratings by children than using an unfamiliar agency staff interviewer, likely due to the higher level of comfort the child has in expression an honest opinion to their parent.

For product diagnostics, alternatives to the traditional just-about-right scales should be considered.  One such alternative provides children with a list of attributes and asks them to identify those that are “just right”.  Only for those attributes NOT selected is the full just-about-right scale asked. With this method, we obtained

  • Clearer formulation direction
  • Lower (more critical) just-about-right percentages, yet
  • Higher liking ratings

Caution is needed in adopting alternative scaling approaches if historical data are used for comparisons, both with regard to just-about-right percentages and liking ratings.