Consumer Acceptance/Affective Testing uses methodologies to measure the overall acceptability and/or preference of a product, and to rate critical attributes which determine preferences. Measurement may be qualitative, quantitative or both. This methodology provides subjective information and answers the question; “How do you like the product” or “How do these products compare in acceptance?”
The key to a successful Consumer Panel is coordinating a test design which solicits comprehensive feedback to achieve the goal of your project. This data can be used to assess changes or improvements made to a product or gauge reactions to a new product or prototype. Consumer acceptance testing can also identify how a product compares to the competition or how a cost reduction may impact a product’s acceptance or preference.
There are a variety of test types which Northland conducts.
- Central Location Tests (CLTs)
- Concept/Product Tests
- In-Home Use Tests (IHUTs)
The three main methods used in consumer acceptance testing are (1) paired preference/multi paired preference, (2) ranking, and (3) rating tests. Generally, the paired-comparison and ratings of acceptance methods are most frequently used to directly measure preference and acceptance using a form of the hedonic scale (e.g., good to bad, palatable to unpalatable, etc.)
Single and Multiple Paired Comparison involves one or more paired products within a single session and requires the subject to indicate which of the coded products is preferred. Subjects are provided either branded or unbranded samples. The serving order is always balanced across panelists, with each product appearing in half the trials, to minimize order bias. Rank order evaluates samples only in relation to one another. Panelists are asked to choose the sample with a higher level of some specific characteristic.
Ranking Methods are an extension of the paired preference test and have similar advantages, including simplicity of instructions to participants minimum amount of effort required to conduct tasting, anduncomplicated data handling with rank order conveying information. Three or more coded samples are presented simultaneously with sufficient amounts served so participants can re-taste the product. The panelist assigns an order to the samples according to their preference. Similar to paired preference, rank order evaluates samples only in relation to one another.
Acceptance Tests are ratings tests. Scale ratings reflect panelists’ perceived intensity and liking of specified attributes. These tests use a combination of a Hedonic Scale (typically a nine point scale which is easily understood by naïve consumers with minimal instruction) and Just About Right (JAR) scale, a five point scale which measures a specific attribute in its intensity. Penalty analysis may be conducted after the test to help identify areas for improvement.
Consumer studies use “naïve” or untrained participants. It is important to identify the target participant (demographics) so panelist recruiters can target the correct populations.