Identifying “Ideal” Sensory Signals for Product Success


Food & Beverage – Baked Goods


Client Challenge

Gain early stage guidance to renovate existing product to deliver optimal experience via identifying/prioritizing the key sensory characteristics that impact consumer preference.

P & K Solution

P&K used its qualitative Sensory Signal Discovery approach in a multi-step process involving:

  • Selecting products for consumer evaluation that represent and stretch the category sensory space (and in this category, included homemade recipes and specialty/bakery products).
  • In conjunction with R&D, determining the key sensory differentiators in the category to create multiple sets of products that vary along a defined sensory dimension or modality (for example: color, sweetness, crispiness).
  • In focus groups, systematically presenting each of the product arrays to garner a deep understanding of the products in each set and how the variation of a specific characteristic dimension impacts liking and the “ideal” product experience.
  • Sensory descriptive analysis was conducted on all of the products to translate the consumer learning into direction for R&D/Product Developers.

P & K Findings

Consumers were able to formulate an “ideal” cookie recipe:

  • “Must-have” characteristics for the category were identified within Appearance, Flavor and Texture. The client’s product was found to be lacking in several of these areas while being a strong performer in other areas.
  • Insights were also garnered around the emotional importance associated with home-baking and providing a “homemade” appearance.

Client Action

Product developers uncovered product nuances that gave them a competitive edge and were able to prioritize renovation efforts, saving money and time in their product development cycle.