Combining highly efficient methods can reduce costs without compromise
Studies that investigate drivers of consumer liking involve both descriptive sensory and consumer data collection. These two components can be run in parallel to reduce project time, but at significant expense.
To reduce costs associated with large scale projects, some researchers have proposed the use of rapid methods to collect both product profiles and consumer data. The cost of panel training is eliminated, but the precision of the data is compromised.
Rapid methods are not the only way in which substantial cost reductions can be achieved. The combination of efficient methods can substantially reduce costs associated with a large optimization study. The process involves a screening stage, in which rapid methods like projective mapping reduce the sample range to representative products. Next, a descriptive panel is trained using immediate on-screen feedback calibration which cuts training time and delivers highly precise sensory descriptive profiles.
The consumer component of the study is also performed in an accelerated manner. Sensory informed balanced incomplete block design (SIBIB) is used to create incomplete blocks in which sensory contrasts are maximized, nested designs enable internal validation, and the size of the consumer study is radically reduced. The use of SIBIB helps to reduce fatigue and other contextual effects that interfere with data quality in a consumer sensory test. Expectation-maximization (EM) algorithm-based imputation is used to obtain full data. The data is used to identify consumer preference clusters and drivers of hedonic response. This method requires that sensory and consumer data collection be conducted in sequence.
Unlike the current generation of rapid methods this approach provides acceleration and cost reduction without compromising data quality. The method is illustrated using examples from two large-scale bread studies.
Findlay, C. J., Castura, J. C., McNicholas, P. D., & Browne, R. (2014). Combining highly efficient methods can reduce costs without compromise. In: 4th Meeting of the Society of Sensory Professionals. 17-19 September. Tucson, Arizona, USA.