A manufacturer of mens' shave products had an established programme of testing the acceptability of new razors and blades amongst a small consumer panel. The panel gave feedback on preference and positives and negatives which fed into further technical development. The technical team were becoming increasingly frustrated that the information was often contradictory and gave very little clear direction.
The solution required the panel output to be a quantified and defined so that it gave direction to the technical team. The consumer panel was committed, reliable and enjoyed the work and the client had ideal facilities and procedures for running early morning shave sessions, so it was sensible to continue to utilise this resource.
What We Did
We involved the consumer panel in a series of tests to determine their abilities to describe and to score the intensity of specific shave related attributes. We selected the top performers for a period of further training designed to move them away from making individual judgements about liking to a consensus evaluation about specific attributes that were critical to razor performance. We also trained the panel manager in the principles of descriptive sensory profiling and panel leadership and worked with them to integrate the new style of working into their procedures. We also took responsibility for all experimental design, data analysis and interpretation, and communication of findings with the technical function.
Consumers who did not make the trained panel work continued to give their acceptability judgements as before and additional members were recruited to this group.
What We Found
The consumer panel members made the transition to trained descriptive panellists with ease and were quickly generating results that compared razors, blades and the effect of shave products. Thanks to the clear definition of attributes in the product profiles and the consistency with which their intensities were rated by the panel, the technical function had a clear picture of the changes that they were introducing and were able to see exactly what was impacting the acceptability of the shave systems.