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Food @ali and Preferace (1993) 65-73

Joel L. Side1 & Herbert Stone
Tragon Corporation, 365 Convention Way, Redwood City, California, 94063, USA

(Paperpresented at ‘Advances in SensoryFood Science’, Rose Marie Pangborn

Memorial Symposium, 2-6 August 1992, J&venpiiii, Finland)

that programs such as these will serve as stimulation for

ABSTRACT increased training of professionals and increased
recognition of its value by food company executives.
Part of this problem can be traced to confusion over
Increased competition and new opportunities stimulated
what sensory evaluation is and how that information is
by pfogessively vanishing trade barriers and expanding communicated. More will be said about this topic later.
world markets, have greatly accelerated the food indus- In the past 20 years there has been a considerable in-
try’s world-wide requirement for new products, quality crease in activity in the field of sensory evaluation. Evi-
improvements, exten&d shelflafe, increased productivity, dence for this is seen by the number of books, journals,
and lower production and distribution costs. Success and articles published on the topic; the number of pro-
within the framework of these new challenges will be fessional organizations for sensory scientists and the
directly related to the industry’s ability to develop more size of their memberships; the number of universities
precise knowledge about consumer attitudes and percep- and departments now offering sensory courses, and the
tions related to food products, and how these are best number of commercial organizations offering sensory
programs and workshops; and most important, the
measured and implemented. Sensory evaluation is a c&i-
number of consumer product companies now using
cal component to that process. Historically, sensory evalu-
sensory evaluation. Sensory evaluation practitioners
ation has often been associated with product experts, and
include a broad range of teachers and researchers in
later as a more passive member of the #n-oduct develop academia, sensory professionals in consumer product
ment team. Currentt$ the new challenges facing the food companies, and a diverse group of research consultants
industry are P-ogressively transforming sensory to a more and suppliers (Stone 8c Sidel, 1993).
proactive role, responsible for generating new product This has resulted in new information, new methods,
ideas based on unique sensory properties or unique con- further refinement of available methods, and identi-
sumer segments ident$ed only through sensory behavior fication of new applications for available methods. It is
However; the survival of sensory evaluation as an in&- disturbing that, in contrast to these advances, sensory
@ulent infmmation resource is not guaranteed: Sensory evaluation as a science is not as well understood as it
evaluation must develop and improve its methods and ought to be, methods are not always used in an appro-
more clearly delineate its responsibilities and role in the priate way, results are easily misused and there is a
dearth of qualified and technically trained professionals
food industry. This paper focuses on the new and chang-
in the field.
ing role fw sensory evaluation in the food industry.
Much of the recent growth for sensory evaluation
can be attributed to the increased interest and support
Keywords: Sensory services; consumer attitudes; reference
of the consumer products industry (e.g. food and bev-
standards; descriptive analysis; time intensity; optimi- erage, cosmetics, personal care products, fabrics and
zation. clothing, and pharmaceuticals). Of these industries,
the food and beverage industry provided most of the
early support, and continues to provide vital sponsor-
INTRODUCTION ship for our science. For the food industry, sensory
evaluation was a natural extension of each company’s
The role of sensory evaluation in the food industry desire to achieve highest product quality and thus
should be an important one, yet it is not. It is hoped attain a dominant role in the marketplace. The com-
plexities of today’s technology and subtleties of the
0 1993 Elsevier Science Publishers Ltd marketplace dictate that all available resources, includ-
095@3293/93/$06.00 ing sensory evaluation, be used to best advantage.

66 J L. Sidel, H. Stone

The basis for these industries supporting sensory Eventually these experts were retiring from companies
evaluation is that it represents a cost-effective resource more quickly than they could be replaced, and this was
with a wide range of applications, and it can provide occurring at a time when there was increased demand
unique product information not readily available from for more experts, as a result of expansion from new
other sources. Continued support from industry will products, new companies, and new plants. Lastly, as
depend on how well sensory evaluation continues to product lines expanded, it was almost impossible for a
satisfy these objectives. single expert to have the knowledge, skills and time
To fully appreciate the role of sensory evaluation in available for evaluating all of the company’s products.
the food industry, it is useful to examine its evolution A logical solution for these concerns was to qualify
from early reliance on individual product experts to individuals more rapidly, document and systematize
the development of independent corporate functions the procedure so that it could be repeated at multiple
staffed by one or more qualified sensory professionals. locations, and train more than one or two people at a
Understanding how sensory evaluation has evolved in time to be product experts. The time was appropriate
the food industry is necessary to understanding its role for development of the expert panel (Cairncross &
in today’s competitive business environment, and to Sjdstrom, 1950). It should be noted that some com-
anticipating future changes for that role. panies continue to rely on experts in addition to having
panels; however, their use has been modified.
Concurrent with the development of expert panels,
EVOLUTION OF SENSORY industry and trade associations, usually in concert with
government agencies, worked to develop product stan-
EVALUATION IN THE FOOD dards and specifications (Mosher et al., 1950; Cross
INDUSTRY et al., 1978). While such standards appeared to serve
useful purposes from a quality control and purchase
Experts and expert panels specification perspective, they were erroneously equated
with sensory evaluation and consumer acceptance. The
All food companies have had and continue to have assumption was that highest quality, i.e. the top grade,
product specialists (or experts) whose responsibilities would be the most preferred product and would com-
are concerned with the quality of raw materials and of mand a premium price. Fortunately, consumers re-
finished products. These specialists have technical sponded independently (McBride & Hall, 1979; Side1
training and extensive practical knowledge about how et al, 1981), unaware of what was best for them, and
raw materials and processing affected finished product there were sufficient failures to force companies to
quality. Company managers assumed (or were told) look for better ways of assessing products before com-
that the expert’s knowledge and familiarity with ma- mitting to major expenditures without any assurances
terials, processes and products resulted in their having of success.
superior sensory skills, and their decisions about pro- Thus, changing consumer habits, competition, and
ducts would enhance success of the product in the the dramatic increase in the technology of product
marketplace. It is interesting to note that sensory manufacture significantly changed the role of experts
research demonstrated that experts were no more sen- and expert panels. With expanding markets, more
sitive than non-experts (Jones, 1968). Experts also complex and diverse raw material sources, and new
trained others to evaluate products, and that training technology and competition, there was impetus for
was a form of an apprenticeship. Most of the pro- change, stimulated by the increasing difficulty of pro-
cedures and criteria for determining who was qualified duct experts to translate their decisions about products
to evaluate products were not documented and the into market success. Many of the evaluation activities
decision when training was completed was based on the performed by expert panels, which had evolved from
expert’s opinion. To the extent that the expert’s pro- the individual product expert, would evolve into special-
duct decisions could be translated to market success, ized panels for discrimination, descriptive, and affec-
such endeavors were actively supported and considered tive evaluations (Amerine et al, 1965).
an important part of the business decision-making
process. Acceptance/preference testing
The success of the product expert raised some practi-
cal problems for management. First, months and some- The military, prompted by the government’s effort to
times years were required to obtain the knowledge, provide more acceptable food for armed forces person-
experience and training necessary to qualify an expert. nel, contributed significantly to the development of
Typically, experts were senior staff, who had been with sensory evaluation. Research attention focused on
the company for many years. Often there was no avail- developing reliable and valid preference survey and
able replacement for the expert and management con- acceptance/preference measurement methods (Peryam
sidered that to be an undesirable risk for the company. et a& 1954, 1960).
The Role ofSensoryEvaluation in the Food Industry 67

The importance of focusing attention on measuring Organizational development

consumer acceptance for food products was beneficial
in several respects; it stimulated interest from dis- The development of unique and useful methods are
ciplines outside of food science and it served as an beneficial for further differentiating sensory evaluation
additional mechanism for sensory evaluation to estab- from other technical and business functions, to an ex-
lish itself as an independent information resource. tent that considerable recognition is accorded sensory
Coinciding with these developments, marketing and evaluation by some companies. Independent depart-
marketing research departments were evolving from ments have been organized to provide sensory test ser-
company sales and advertising activities. Marketing vices; varying in size from one to as many as 20 or more
specialists sought assistance from academicians in the people fully committed to the product evaluation pro-
social and psychological sciences in order to better cess. The sensory staff is recognized for their skill in
comprehend consumer behavior. As these disciplines measuring the response of others, and are not them-
interacted with technologists and product specialists, selves expected to provide the evaluations. This latter
the sensory function evolved, frequently as a home- change is a major accomplishment for sensory evalu-
economics type activity in which products were pre- ation.
pared and served to individuals (usually company Unfortunately, in the process of establishing sensory
management). Gradually, interest in testing focused on resources in companies, scant attention has been given
how the products would be served and the multifaceted to the long-term organizational issues such as reporting
issues of test design, testing environment, who should structure, business strategy, budget, and so forth. Not
participate as subjects and so forth. In that respect, all departments are guilty of overlooking organiza-
the sensory literature from about 1945 to 1965 was tional issues, but certainly are the exception and not
particularly interesting. For further discussion about the rule. Specific issues that are often overlooked dur-
the development of sensory evaluation, see Peryam ing the formative stages for the sensory function in-
(1991). clude the impact of this new discipline within the
company (e.g. the reporting structure), competition
for a limited amount of funds, and the business strategy
(i.e. how the information is used in relation to other
CONTEMPORARY SENSORY product information sources such as consumer tests
EVALUATION IN THE FOOD done by marketing research). It will be necessary to
INDUSTRY comment further about these three issues.

General considerations Impact of the new discipline within the company

Sensory evaluation has evolved into an independent As described previously, food companies have always
function in the food industry, where it has been required and obtained information related to product
defined as a scientific discipline (Anon., 1975). As a quality, perceived differences, and preference. The
scientific discipline it is both investigative and infor- evolution to a separate group or department which
mative. Hypotheses are formed and tested, and reli- uses scientific principles for obtaining this information
ability and validity are critical measures of the represented a new and better way to proceed. Where
usefulness of a result. In a business environment, sen- the type of information provided by the sensory func-
sory evaluation does not seek information simply for tion was previously obtained by other groups or indivi-
the knowing; the information is directed at answering duals in the company, it was unnecessary, unwarranted
specific questions that have immediate implications. and politically unwise to imply that all previous pro-
Sensory information must be actionable in the business cedures and information were incorrect, or worse, in-
environment; senior management has little patience valid, even when that was the case. Where sensory
for impractical approaches, ‘fuzzy’ thinking, and vague evaluation can provide new types of information, or in-
and useless data. formation which is not currently provided by others, it
From the research, a body of principles, practices, is best to first establish whether the sensory group is the
and methods (some of which are standard, and others appropriate business function to obtain that informa-
which are more unique to a specific problem) have tion. To be unaware of these issues, or to ignore them,
been developed for measuring responses to products. will produce inter-department conflicts that will dimin-
Today, sensory relies on panel data not expert judge- ish sensory’s ability to function in that environment.
ment, rigorous control of the measurement process,
and statistical applications to behavioral data. The
Financial support
methods and principles are the tools which are used
for answering important business issues related to To justify funding, the sensory function needs to
perceptions and consumer preferences for products. demonstrate the uniqueness of the information that is
68 J. L. Sidd, H. Stone

provided, as well as demonstrate the value and contri- problems. Raw materials, manufacturing practices, and
bution of that information to the success of the com- even geography will influence products; and question-
pany. New funding or increased financial support for naire design, subject qualifications, and test practices
the sensory activity usually will have a negative effect on will influence results. When establishing the para-
the budget of another group within the company; i.e. meters for a test, information from several disciplines is
the money has to come from somewhere. Other groups used, including, for example, physiology, psychology,
aggressively seeking to enlarge their budgets (and im- mathematics and statistics. For any problem there will
portance) may view sensory funds as an incentive to be many options and the sensory professional’s task is
seek control of the sensory group. Whatever the situ- to determine the most appropriate action for that
ation, it is necessary for the sensory group to have their problem. Because each company has unique products
own budget, particularly if they are to develop useful and problems, its sensory department often needs to
methods for evaluation of the company’s products. develop or modify standard practices and procedures.
Frequently this will require some research, for which a
Organizational location qualified staff and available time and funding will be
Failure to develop a coherent business plan and ad- The rapid growth of sensory evaluation in the food
dress the longer term issues has produced some rather industry, the failure (or inability) of some companies to
unusual scenarios, which have severely diminished the include on their staff qualified sensory researchers
impact of sensory information in many companies. By skilled at designing behavioral studies, and the lack of
unusual scenarios we are referring to sensory groups appropriate funding for this type of activity often re-
positioned within, and answering to, a product develop sults in insufficient and inadequate investigation into
ment department, or each product category having its the reliability and validity of the various sensory pro-
own sensory specialists also answering to the same man- cedures that are used. Consequently, companies are
ager as the product specialist. In some organizations unaware of better methods, and do not have staff able
R&D will use sensory evaluation as a means of off- to develop new procedures or to improve those that are
setting negative results from marketing research, or use available.
it as a substitute for or to duplicate marketing research Fortunately this situation is changing, and when eco-
without any appreciation for the consequences. In other nomics allow, more companies are supporting applied
organizations the sensory function is based on a single and basic sensory research. Sensory departments are
method and problems are fitted to the method. held accountable for developing or adopting methods
While our purpose is not to make a list of the abuses for improving the reliability of panelists, question-
to which sensory evaluation is subjected, it is important naires, and evaluation procedures; as well as for im-
to appreciate their impact on developing a meaningful, proving the validity of results and conclusions. As new
useful and unique source of information. For more dis- and more complex products are developed, and new
cussion about the misuses of sensory evaluation, see information about measuring behavior becomes avail-
Pangborn (1980). Although this publication is now able, sensory managers are expected to quickly and
13 years old, it is as current now as it was in 1980. efficiently evaluate that information and incorporate it
into their testing programs.
As companies become more aware of market oppor-
tunities available through sensory research, they are
CURRENT ROLE OF SENSORY more willing to fund those activities.
Service role
Sensory evaluation has a dual role within a company. Its
primary role is that of service to marketing, R&D, and Sensory evaluation is primarily a source for product in-
manufacturing. Of equal importance, yet frequently formation. However, it is also responsible for educating
treated as a lesser role, is its research activity related to and updating managers and others about sensory prac-
perception and the development and refinement of tices and applications, and any new developments. Sen-
methods and procedures appropriate to that com- sory evaluation also could be supervising tests and
pany’s products. training panels for other company functions.
A variety of sensory methods are currently used in
Research role this service function. The methods are classified as dis-
criminative, descriptive and affective, and each has
The sensory evaluation department is responsible for unique requirements for qualifying subjects and mea-
providing actionable information from reliable and suring responses. There are different classification
valid tests that are related to a business objective. systems; however, most sensory professionals agree
Sensory professionals are seldom faced with routine that discrimination and descriptive tests are sensory
The Role of SensoryEvaluation in the Food Industy 69

analytical-laboratory tests and use subjects qualified ac- Test design and superuision. To assist with the design,
cording to their sensory skills, and that affective tests supervision, and analysis of product evaluation tests for
are used with consumers qualified according to pro- marketing research tests. Assistance from sensory evalu-
duct attitude and usage behaviors. ation is frequently requested for tests involving pro-
Regarding this latter issue, we are reminded of Pang- ducts which have difficult preparation, handling and
born’s admonition that ‘Although the distinction servicing instructions, and when large numbers (more
among these four types of measurement [sensitivity, than three) of products are to be evaluated in a central
quantitative, qualitative, and affective] is very clear-cut, location test.
the most frequent errors one sees in the present food
science literature are related to incorrect selection Services to quality assurance and quality control
and/or use of methods. Often, objectives are poorly
defined, methods are confounded or combined in Sexxny specifications. To establish intensity limits for
attempts to “short-cut” proper procedures, and all too important sensory attributes for products (Stone & Sidel,
often, investigators do not distinguish analytical sensory 1993).
analysis from consumer-type tests’ (Pangborn, 1980). Training and monikning QA/QC panels and programs.
The following section will describe some important To design, implement, and monitor procedures used
business applications for sensory evaluation. in production for the routine evaluation of ingredients,
in-process and finished product (Nakayama 8c Wessman,
Services to product development 1979).
Distribution product. The objective is to evaluate retail
New product development and product improvement. To product from different geographical locations and pro-
provide sensory information about product differ- duction sites.
ences, attribute intensities, and preferences as a func-
tion of ingredient, packaging and process variables.
Pilot+nt scale-up. To measure product differences as
a function of the changeover from pilot-plant to manu-
facturing. ADVANCES
Production benchmark.To provide a permanent descrip
tive and affective sensory record for future reference. Research role
Cost reduction. To determine the sensory implications
of lower cost materials and processes. Success for sensory evaluation in business depends on
Product/@-ocessingchange. To assess the sensory effect the usefulness and the cost of the information pro-
of any ingredient, process, or packaging change not vided. This is a powerful incentive to continue develop-
associated with cost reduction or product improve- ing new and useful applications, and to continue to
ment. improve the accuracy and lower the cost for available
Instrument/sensq correlations. To describe the statis- methods. Selected areas for research deserving atten-
tical relationship between instrument and sensory tion are discussed below.
measures (Noble, 1975).
Product stability and she&@. To determine the sensory Affective tests
effect of different storage conditions.
Product optimization. To determine that combination Sensory affective tests provide a direct link between the
of product variables and sensory attributes that will be consumer and other sensory responses, such as the de-
best liked by consumers (Schutz, 1983; Side1 & Stone, velopment process. These tests are an integral part of
1983). any sensory program.
Subject screening criteria and test procedures need
Services to MRD to be improved to assure that results from sensory affec-
tive tests are a valid indicator of consumer preference.
Monitor competition. To evaluate current and new The same may be said for consumer results from mar-
competitive products. This may be done for a limited keting research studies. Improved screening criteria
number of products, or for an entire category (e.g. may allow for fewer participants in a test. Question-
strawberry preserves). naires and scoresheets need to be developed which
Advertising claim suppmt. To provide sensory informa- further minimize, or eliminate, biasing consumer test
tion to support or challenge a sensory-based advertising results. More information is needed about the effects
claim (Side1 & Stone, 1992). of different contexts and usage situations on affective
Identijjing consumer preference groups. To identify scores (Schutz, 1988; McDermott, 1990).
unique groups or ‘clusters’ of consumers who are Information from sensory affective tests provide
differentiated by sensory preferences. greater opportunities for interaction with marketing
70 J. L. S&l, H. Stone

research, and to integrate the two information sources dures for test validity. For example, a panel that recog-
(Carter & Riskey, 1990). However, there must be a clear nizes that products are different can be taught to
differentiation between sensory objectives and affective associate each product with a specific scaler value (e.g.
tests, and marketing research objectives and tests. Other- told that product A is equal to an intensity score of 2,
wise, there will be confusion and conflict about respon- product B is equal to a 4, and so on). When that scale is
sibilities. Where such conflict has occurred, sensory given an attribute name (e.g. stale), it will appear that
often finds itself absorbed into other business func- the subjects can provide intensity information, when in
tions, effectively reducing their usefulness to product fact they are only providing nominal scale information.
development and quality control; prohibited from In this example the nominal scale has been given nu-
doing affective tests with consumers; or discontinued, merical labels. Although there is no validity to the
because they were viewed redundant with other com- panel’s scores for stale, their ability to reliably identify
pany testing activities such as marketing research. which product is associated with the 2, 4, and so forth,
Sensory affective tests focus on products; acceptance will be erroneously viewed as a measure of validity. This
is measured as a function of product differences and was a fatal flaw for expert systems, and is regrettably,
similarities; a physical product is present and is evalu- frequently encountered in some descriptive proce-
ated; context for the test is limited to the minimal dures today (Meilgaard et al., 1991). Rather than
amount of information necessary to describe the pro- ‘teach’ subjects what they need to perceive, it is more
duct (e.g. barbecue-flavored ketchup) and its use (e.g. useful to measure what it is that they perceive.
a snack, a breakfast drink, etc.); and the dependent The use of reference standards for panel training
variable is passive (e.g. preference/acceptance) or is a (Wolfe, 1979; Rainey, 1986) and product testing also
scale that correlates well with the hedonic scale (e.g. requires scrutiny. The literature contains comprehen-
FACT scale; Schutz, 1965). Sensory affective tests are sive lists of references and their respective scores for
frequently used to reduce product alternatives to one scale extremes (Muiioz, 1986); however, there is no evi-
or two that will be studied by marketing research. dence that without them a panel cannot function or
In contrast, the marketing research model focuses that results are unreliable and/or invalid. References
on estimating the purchase intent for various popula- are a source of variability, and if very different from the
tions and population segments; a product may or may test products, are irrelevant or invalid. Training sub-
not be present, and if a product is present the con- jects to provide identical scores for a reference infers
sumer typically evaluates only one or two pairs of prod- that there is one ‘correct’ response; it does not account
ucts; the consumer may be provided with a broad for individual differences and distributions of re-
context for evaluating the product, and this context sponses, and confuses reliability with validity.
may include components important for measuring pur- There should be little argument or need to further
chase intent; and ballots usually contain many pages of discuss the rationale for classifying descriptive tests as
questions for measuring a range of consumer attitudes. sensory analytical-laboratory methods rather than as
The dependent variable is more cognitive than sensory, consumer methods, as has recently been described by
or is action oriented (e.g. purchase intent) to estimate some researchers (Williams 8c Langron, 1984, Williams
the potential marketability for a product. & Arnold, 1985).

Descriptive tests Direct data entry and test automation

As described earlier, these are classified as sensory ana- Technological developments in direct data entry
lytical-laboratory tests, in which people are screened (Anon., 1984; Billmeyer & Wyman, 1991) and auto-
and then trained to evaluate an array of products mated laboratory equipment for serving products rep-
(Hootman, 1992; Stone & Sidel, 1993). The earliest de- resents an opportunity for sensory evaluation to reduce
scriptive methods were directly linked to product ex- the time and labor required to obtain and analyze re-
perts, while most current methods provide for qualified sponses. At their current stage of development most of
consumers to participate as subjects. Descriptive meth- these systems are not cost effective, they do not im-
ods can be further improved by more accurate and less prove the quality of sensory data (some will actually dis-
time-consuming screening, training and testing proce- tract the subject and disrupt the test), and they isolate
dures, and by developing procedures that require fewer the subject from the experimenter during the impor-
subjects without sacrificing necessary accuracy. How- tant period of data collection. Much progress has been
ever, the limits may already have been reached for made to correct those problems, however more
some of these. progress will be necessary before sensory evaluation
All laboratory descriptive methods require some can make full use of the new technology. The sensory
amount of behavior modification. However, sensory professional will be an important resource for com-
professionals need to recognize and avoid training panies developing the necessary equipment, hardware
practices that substitute behavior modification proce- and software.
The Role of Sensory Evaluatiun in the Food Industly 71

Service role more comprehensive issues. For example, research for

many new product development projects would be
Managing sensory resources more useful if it included a broad range of experimen-
tal and competitive products. Information from that re-
This symposium focuses on the scientific aspect of sen- search can be used by marketing for a category review
sory evaluation; however, it is important to remember and for identifying sensory-based preference segments
that the success for sensory evaluation in the food in- among consumers; by product development for a pro-
dustry will depend on the sensory resources and on how duct optimization purposes; and by quality control for
well those resources are managed (Eggert, 1989). establishing a preliminary sensory specification, a sen-
Developing a credible role for sensory evaluation sory benchmark, and for developing panel capabilities
within the food industry involves an understanding of a for monitoring product quality.
company’s organizational requirements and a thor- In addition, larger and more comprehensive sensory
ough knowledge of the science of sensory evaluation. It studies, and the integration of those studies with pre-
is necessary to both define and describe the sensory vious information will require improved database man-
function, the objectives and applications for that func- agement. For example, the model developed for the
tion, and the methods and procedures that are used. It sensory specification can be used to evaluate the sen-
is equally necessary to delineate where this function dif- sory consequences for product changes due to ingredi-
fers from other company resources for product evalua- ent, processing and packaging changes, and storage.
tion information. Clear delineation of the sensory This information must be readily accessible and avail-
function is necessary to minimize, or eliminate overlap able for multipurpose formats.
with other groups, while assuring that responsibility for
obtaining important research information has been as-
signed, and that it is assigned to the appropriate com- Designed experiments
pany function. This will strengthen the long term
A proactive and less fragmented approach to applying
prospects for sensory evaluation within a company and
sensory evaluation will require testing large numbers of
avoid the type of conflict and confusion which is in-
products to provide more comprehensive learning
evitable when such delineation has not been provided.
about how product and process variables influence per-
The continued growth and survival of sensory evalua-
ception and preference. Mathematical models describ-
tion as an independent information resource will de-
ing the relationship between perception and product
pend on its ability to provide useful and cost-effective
variables will provide greater understanding and more
services, and its ability to delineate itself as a unique
long term benefits for the product development pro-
and separate function.
A wide range of design plans are available for study-
Educating users ing the effect of product and process variables on de-
scriptive and affective measures (Henika, 1972; Gacula
Previous sections of this presentation have provided & Singh, 1984; O’Mahony, 1986). The test plans in-
considerable evidence that sensory evaluation has a clude RSM, factorial, and fractional factorial designs,
broad range of business applications. Unfortunately, all of which require systematic variation of the experi-
too few companies are aware of all these possibilities, or mental variables. Many developers resist using design
have been able to develop and organize the resources matrices, often because they are unfamiliar with them
necessary for so diverse an application for sensory eval- and their use for studying complex interactions, and
uation. Sensory professionals need to better understand because of the effort required to produce sufficient
these applications, and do a better job of educating quantities of the numbers and types of products re-
management and potential users of those applications. quired by the design plan. The potential learning from
This would include in-company seminars and presen- using these studies is enormous. More efficient designs
tations describing available services (and their value) to are becoming available, and as product developers
new managers and potential users, and circulating sum- become more familiar with their benefits, their use will
maries of relevant research from the sensory literature, increase. Therefore, it will be important for sensory
and from company sponsored studies. professionals to be familiar with these designs, to have
the knowledge and resources for their analysis, and to
assist product developers to understand and use them.
Proactive and comprehensive
The typical role for sensory evaluation could be best de- Identifying and describing consumer preference clusters
scribed as passive and fragmented. Tests are initiated
on a request basis, and those requests frequently focus Consumer segments and niche marketing are im-
on one issue at a time rather than focusing on larger portant concepts in marketing research, as is the
72 J. L. Side,!, H. Stone

knowledge that different consumers demonstrate

different sensory preferences. The increasing popu- CONCLUSION
larity of optimization research, design studies, and use
of multivariate statistics provides the sensory pro-
The challenge for sensory evaluation and for the pro-
fessional with an opportunity to examine data for the
fessional in the food industry is to develop a resource
presence of these unique groups and the sensory and
that can provide useful and accurate information at a
analytical basis for these preference groups.
reasonable cost and in the shortest possible time. To ac-
There are many benefits to developing new products
complish these goals requires skilled individuals who
based on sensory preference groups. Marketing and
are capable of applying their knowledge to solve
product development can use that information to de-
specific problems. Sensory evaluation must continue
sign products with or without respect to preference
to demonstrate the value and uniqueness of the infor-
clusters, target for the best product for one or more of
mation it obtains and clearly differentiate it from other
the clusters, or develop for the best compromise pro-
product information sources. ’
duct across the clusters. It is likely that each decision
We would be remiss if we did not draw attention to
will require a different product model.
the fact that the role of sensory evaluation in the food
Unfortunately, traditional demographic and usage
industry has been greatly enhanced by Rose Marie
information rarely correlate well with preference
Pangborn. We are deeply indebted for her contribu-
clusters. This reveals the need for more useful con-
tions to that body of sensory principles and methods we
sumer classification information (McDermott, 1990).
use, for the information she provided about products
Economic and purchase information may be more use-
and sensory behavior, for her overall contributions to
ful when accompanied by selected information about
the credibility of the sensory science, for so effectively
lifestyle and attitudes. Better understanding of differ-
educating future contributors to the science, and for
ences among consumers will lead to more meaningful
her personal encouragement and support.
and more accurate screening criteria for acceptance
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