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At HRA Global, we pride ourselves on going above and beyond expectations to provide true insight.

With backgrounds in grocery retail, food manufacture, and consulting, nobody else has a grasp on food and drink that is as strong and as unique as ours.

We have a strong reputation for neutrality and objectivity with retailers, manufacturers and government agencies, offering a range of both qualitative and quantitative techniques to help understand trade channel and consumer.

Whether it’s market testing a new flavour, understanding consumer behaviour, looking for consumer input into new packaging, or re-segmenting a category, we deliver actionable insights.

Agriculture, Charities/Voluntary, Drinks (Alcoholic), Drinks (Non-alcoholic), FMCG – General, Food, Nutrition, Retail, Toiletries/Beauty Products
Consultancy, Depth Interviews, Desk Research, Hall Tests, Market reviews and analysis, Mobile Web Surveys, Online Surveys, Qualitative, Quantitative, Questionnaire Design
Brand/Branding, Business-to-Business, Consumer, New Product Development, Online Panels, Packaging/Design, Pricing, Product Testing, Trendspotting, Usage & Attitude
Affluent, Digital Consumers, Hard-to-Reach, High Net Worth, Mature/Midlife, Men, Mothers/Parents, Senior Citizens, Women, Youth/Teens
Senior Contacts

Hamish Renton (Managing Director)
Kim Shaddick (Senior Consultant)

Breakdown of Personnel

Admin/Support staff: 1
Executive/Research staff: 3
Field interviewers: 3
Field managers/supervisors: 1
Telephone interviewers: 2
Total Number of Employees: 6 to 10

Address

Torquay
Devon
Tel: +44 (0)1803 310933
Email: info@hra-global.com
Establishment date: 2011

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO RUN TASTE TESTS?

It’s a fact that even with the most well-thought-out branding and marketing, if the taste of a product isn’t good, consumers simply won’t buy it again. Valuing style over substance may work in some industries but food and drink is not one of these.

 

Taste tests are therefore the logical way around this issue, allowing brands to at least reduce risks through finding out whether their products have a chance of success and what specific formulation changes should be made to suit new markets.

 

As with all market research, there is a spectrum of research designs for taste tests from the empirical to the authentic. While there’s no ‘right’ answer, there is always a balance between efficacy and economy which needs to be struck.

 

I’d recommend brands consider four key areas before agreeing how the research is to be run:

 

1. Think carefully about what you want to measure

 

The foundation of any kind of research is to be sure you are measuring what you set out to measure. For scientists, this means doing whatever is possible to eliminate the influence of any ‘extraneous’ e.g. outside variables. This is especially true when we consider the multisensory experience that is consuming food and drink. While it is well known that the taste experience is influenced by the look and smell of food, it goes much further than this – to the degree that taste perception is even altered by the colour and size of the plates and cutlery used, packaging etc.

 

For example, research has shown that food tastes sweeter on smaller spoons traditionally used for desserts while yogurt eaten with a white spoon is perceived as sweeter than when eaten with a black spoon.

 

Similarly, people perceive themselves as more satiated when they eat from smaller plates compared to larger. With all these contributing factors, it is important to keep methods standardised for each participant and to keep any materials used as neutral as possible. This points to laboratory-style conditions to ensure participant results are comparable. A step further is blind taste testing which ensures participants are focusing solely on taste.

 

However, while blind tastes can certainly be useful for comparing brands and making ‘8 out of 10 consumers prefer x’ claims, when looking at the overall product experience there is an argument that researchers should keep conditions as close to real life as possible. Who in real-life will eat a yogurt with their eyes closed?! Not to mention that keeping these conditions standardised requires effort and time which often means either sacrificing cost or the number of participants.

 

2. Ready, aim, Fire – NOT Ready, fire, aim!

 

However, as always in market research, there is a fine balance between keeping costs down and getting robust, informative results. While of course, taste tests can be done ‘on the cheap’, this kind of method is unlikely to give the results brands need. Planning is a crucial stage in the process and time needs to be invested in doing this properly with an expert experienced in this field.

 

Poor research design and a lack of contingency planning is often at the route of market research failure – something which should be avoided at all costs as it can be difficult to spot research mistakes before actually seeing the product fail and asking ‘why?’. Only then do you realise that the root cause of the issue was decision making based on inaccurate results.

 

3. Getting the sample right

 

Central to any good research is identifying the right sample and, more importantly, finding the participants! This links tightly with location. Pick a cheaper hall test location which is ‘out of the way’ and you won’t necessarily get the footfall you need to get the numbers you need. However, getting a good location doesn’t necessarily mean big money. It’s all about the target consumers – investing in a central London location for a hall test may mean access to a lot of busy professionals but if you’re looking for active consumers you’d be better off in a leisure centre.

 

Equally, when recruiting for focus groups, a lot of thought needs to go into exact sample specifications as the sample is so small, findings can be greatly influenced by any outliers. Thinking through the best method for sample recruitment can save you money and time as for hall tests in particular, researchers will likely to get through the fieldwork quicker if less time is spent waiting for the right participant to walk in off the street.

 

4. Make sure the research design gives you the results you need

 

One of the first steps of any research project is asking what research design is best to use. For taste tests, if you are after exploratory research and want detailed views on which aspects of the product are working and which aren’t, a focus group would be the logical route. While if you are after figures to present to buyers or statistics to cite in a press release, hall tests would be recommended. It is always a good idea to work back from where you want to end up to determine how best to get there.

 

Taste tests are a crucial stage of the route to market process but unfortunately are so often ignored. Introducing a product which fails on taste grounds is damaging not only financially but also to the brand’s reputation and this can be something which is extremely difficult to come back from.

 

Source: View here

“HRA Global have worked with Noluma in B2C and B2B research and business development since early 2018.  The qualitative and quantitative research conducted was extensive, coordinated timely, and was presented well with graphics and videos.  Findings served us effectively in validating our concept and driving the best business model forward, put to the test in our business outreach run to date.” Noluma International 

 

“We worked with HRA on Market Research projects in the Food Fraud area. We were impressed with their contacts and knowledge within the Food and Drink industry. They were professional, completed the research in a timely manner and to a high standard and were enjoyable partners to work with.” University of Portsmouth

 

“HRA helped to build the Kingdom Cheddar brand with proposition development, brand design, qualitative and quantitative market research and packaging design for the US market. They successfully provided advertising, website creation, social media activation and in store marketing material for US consumers, retailers and wholesalers. They are effective and considered with a friendly, professional responsive work ethic.” Omsco

 

“HRA delivered successful Market Research projects which evaluated consumer options for one of our existing Children’s brands. The research was well constructed, using sound methodology and fieldwork and the conclusions were presented clearly and actionable. They worked quickly but professionally and were always accessible and collaborative.” Britvic

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