Oral nutritional supplements are designed to provide those who are under-nourished, unwell or under-going medical treatments, with a complete nutritional solution. Providing a high concentration of nutrients in a palatable format is a challenge for product developers. However, palability is strongly linked to both amount and frequency of consumption and as such is driver of compliance. Our client had been working to improve the taste of its product and wished to carry out research to substantiate a claim of superiority of taste against a leading competitor. This product is freely available in pharmacies and other retail outlets but may also be prescribed by healthcare professionals.
We worked with our client to fully understand the claims that they wished to support and designed a study that compared the taste acceptability of the two products. Given that anyone can become unwell at any time, the first round of research was to focus on the healthy elderly: people who were currently not using ONS but would be open to doing so if they were unwell and needed extra nourishment.
What We Did
We selected potential ONS users and they evaluated the client and competitor products in a central location test. All samples were evaluated blind. Respondents self completed a questionnaire that explored acceptability of each of the products and agreement with product related statements. Comparison of results would investigate the validity of the taste superiority claim whilst measurement of agreement with statements would provide the basis for non-comparative claims such as "70% of respondents agreed that product x tasted great".
What We Found
There was strong evidence that the population tested significantly preferred the client's product and rated as more acceptable for flavour and mouthfeel.
The client was able to substantiate the claim and promote their product both to the general public and to healthcare professionals accordingly. Further claim substantiation studies will focus on patient user groups who may have impaired taste sensitivity and differing expectations and tolerance for ONS palatability.