Are sensory panels right for you?

Are sensory panels right for you?

Sensory panels or Consumer research? What’s the difference?!

Trained panels are teams of specially selected individuals who have a higher than average ability to detect tastes at low concentrations. They can describe individual flavours and textures, and sort differing samples according to the intensity of those tastes and textures. At Sensory Dimensions, our panellists go through a rigorous screening process, and less than 20% of people screened meet our criteria. However, we want them to be even better – our panellists go on to be trained in a specific product type and become experts in their field; from shampoo to potatoes, e-cigarettes to chocolate!

Panels work for hours to describe the exact sensations, flavours and aromas found within a product and this can often lead to long discussions over minute details, such as whether something one panellist describes as ‘burnt’ is the same as what another describes as ‘caramelised’. It is this level of hard work and collaboration that means data collected from trained panellists is factual, not opinion.


Consumer research on the other hand, often centres around the acceptability of a product in comparison to current products and competitors. Our consumers are just regular people who usually buy the type of product that we are testing. They can provide excellent data for how much a product is liked or disliked and what they think should be changed. This is where trained sensory panels come in as they can pinpoint exactly what is different between samples and what potentially needs to be changed. For example, if the consumer research says that consumers don’t like the sweetness of your product but like your competitors’, the trained sensory panel would be able to say why.

The applications for consumer research and trained panels are endless and understanding the pros and cons of each method is key to design and innovation, and ultimately creating a product that consumers will love!


If you are interested in Sensory Testing, we are running Descriptive Panel Leader training in Nottingham on the 12th May and 21st October 2020. Find out more.

Alternatively, if you would like information on how consumer research or our trained panels can help you, please get in touch.