Finding your way in NPD
The value of qualitative research in exploring consumer reaction to new product concepts and motivations for purchase is well established. It can help us understand more about what the consumer expects of our products and how we are performing against these expectations. So, if we think about orange juice, we may want to understand what the consumer expects of their breakfast juice as compared to a mid-afternoon pick me up; who they buy juice for; what is important to them when buying juice or their opinion of different brands or adverts. These are all typical of the issues into which qualitative research provides insight.
At Sensory Dimensions we have taken our expertise in product evaluation and sensory testing and integrated it into our approach to qualitative research. Our Sensory Focus Groups are specifically designed to give guidance to NPD teams as to how products, either new prototypes or established brands, are performing against the expectation generated by the concept or packaging. In other words, a research and development team can understand whether the concept that they are working to actually matches the understanding of the consumer.
At the end, a clear picture is presented on what attributes the product should have, what attributes it definitely shouldn't have, and an idea of a range. When we think back to the orange juice, the focus group may have decided that a refreshing drink cannot also be viscous; or that a juice perceived as healthy cannot then be too sweet. This gives the product developer some boundaries to work to. The groups work particularly well if carefully chosen and prepared samples can be available for tasting. These samples should show variation in intensity of selected sensory properties e.g. for a drink it may be sweetness, bitterness, flavour level, viscosity and carbonation.
Read how we applied these techniques to the design of a new brand of sports drink.