Sensory Research Systems

“Sensory research” tends to be used by research and development (R&D) scientists and food scientists in much the same way that the marketing world uses the term “product testing.” Many of the methods are identical or very similar.

Sensory Research

In general usage, the term “sensory research” tends to refer to small-scale product testing that is used by R&D scientists to help them formulate new foods and beverages and reformulate existing food and beverage products.

The primary purpose of sensory research is the support of R&D efforts or quality-control measurements. Decision Analyst designs, develops, and operates low-cost, fast-turnaround R&D sensory-testing systems, usually based on relatively small samples (30 to 100 respondents). These systems typically include:

  • Building custom panels in selected geographic areas (and mailing or delivering test products to participants).
  • Recruiting and scheduling respondents to come to one or more facilities to participate in sensory tests.
  • Tabulating and analyzing the resulting sensory research data.
  • Maintaining a historical database of exactly what was tested and the corresponding test results.

The exact methodology is designed to meet the needs of each client’s R&D program.

Ingredient Screening

As a preliminary step in attempting to optimize a particular food or beverage formulation, it is valuable to develop an understanding of the relative importance and role of the different ingredients in the formulation. Typically, a number of product formulations are created, each with a high level and a low level (or absence) of a particular ingredient, with all other ingredients held constant. Each respondent usually rates three to five of these different products, depending upon the type of product.

The products are rated on overall appeal as well as specific attributes (sweetness, texture, mouth feel, etc.). Who tastes which product is determined by a complex experimental design plan. The resulting data are analyzed via ANOVA and MANOVA statistical techniques, as well as regression and discriminant analyses. Choice modeling and response-surface methods are also used.

Sensory Research Services

Decision Analyst is a recognized leader in consumer product testing and sensory research. Its staff has evaluated more than 1,000 foods, beverages, and other products during the past 45 years. The firm has many staff members with extensive experience in the conduct and analysis of product testing and optimization studies. The company is a leader in the development of analytical techniques to enhance product testing and optimization.

If you would like more information on sensory research services, please contact Bonnie Janzen, President, by email at, or Jerry W. Thomas, Chief Executive Officer, by email at Both can be reached by calling 1-800-ANALYSIS (262-5974) or 1-817-640-6166.