Page 5: Carrying out taste tests
Taste tests are ideal for goods such as food that are consumed directly. Researchers working for Greggs plc use taste tests to obtain detailed information about customer perceptions. The particular method used is called a Hall Test. This is a popular quantitative market research technique in which interviewers recruit random respondents on the street and invite them to take part in the research.
With taste tests, respondents eat products within a controlled setting and then give their opinion on them. These tests can be used to:
- track views on a product over time
- assess changes or improvements made to a product
- gauge reactions to a new product.
Taste tests require 'blind testing' i.e. - respondents are unaware of the identity of the brand being tested. This eliminates any bias that might otherwise occur in the results due to respondents' pre-conceived ideas about a particular brand or food retail outlet. Respondents are also kept unaware of any changes that may have been made to a product e.g. a different dressing in a sandwich. This ensures that their comments are not influenced by any prior knowledge.
With a taste test, it is good practice to test no more than three products in a session. This should ensure that respondents' taste buds are not overloaded.
Greggs plc carry out two main types of taste test:
- Single Product Test
This involves respondents testing one product only and then giving their views on that product. This can be repeated over time. In this way, the business becomes aware of any changes in consumers' tastes or perceptions.
- Comparison Test
This involves respondents trying more than one variant of the same product e.g. the same filling in different types of bread and then being asked to state their preference. This approach is good for making comparisons but it does not produce enough data about the qualities of a single product and leaves important gaps in information. For example, a respondent could state that they preferred product B to product A without being required to reveal that they did not like, and would not buy, either of them!