Preference Mapping

Identifying New Products with Preference Mapping

Preference mapping links descriptive sensory profiles to consumer preferences. What it means in practice is that you can refine the sensory attributes of your planned product or products to give a more precise match with the known preferences of your target consumers.

If you use a large enough group of consumers, say 150 people, you can ‘cluster' or group them together dependent on their different preferences. This type of segmentation means that you may even be able to identify a cluster of consumers that are not being satisfied by the current products on the market, and develop a product to target them!

For example, a fruit juice manufacturer with an established long-life drinks brand wanted to move into the more profitable chiller cabinet market. Initial research had identified two products that showed promise: a seven-fruit juice and a two-fruit variety.

Sensory Dimensions was asked to establish where these two products sat in the overall market, with a view to recommending "target taste profiles" for future products in this new line.

We carried out sensory profiling of the two new products together with eight existing competitor products. Our trained sensory panel carried out descriptive sensory profiling of the products and we also asked 150 consumers how much they liked each of the juices. By mapping the sensory attributes onto the consumer preference space we could understand taste segmentation in the juice market, identify the key drivers of preference and gain a clear picture of the taste preferences of fruit juice drinkers.

From the mapping process we were able to identify 3 taste segments in the market:

Exotic Seekers – people who prefer high sweetness, low acidity and exotic fruits (e.g. mango)

Softer Taste Seekers – people who prefer high sweetness, low acidity and orchard fruits (e.g. apple)

Tangy Taste Seekers - people who prefer lower sweetness, higher acidity and will tolerate some bitterness.

And the ‘map' we produced looked like this.

Based on this information we were able to produce target product profiles for new juices that would satisfy each of these different taste segments. After further research three new juice flavours were developed, and successfully launched.

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