Page 8: Rules for accurate taste testing
Some important basic rules in carrying out an accurate taste test are:
Provide a facility in which respondents are given individual privacy. In that way, they are not in a position to influence each other.
Provide a table and chair for both the respondent and the administrator. Display the products on a plate. Provide each respondent with a glass of water with which to cleanse their palate after each testing. Provide a questionnaire. Examples of questionnaires are provided on the website at www.greggs.co.uk.
Choose interviewers and respondents who are not linked in any way to the product and so have no great wish or need to see a particular outcome to the test.
- Sample size
Consider running an initial test with just 30 respondents as the sample. If it proves successful, then carry out further tests using a much larger group.
- Product preparation
Present the product in an appropriate way that is as close as possible to how the final product would reach a consumer if production went ahead. This may involve making sure that for every respondent the product is at the right temperature, cut to the desired size and properly prepared e.g. buttered and also to ensure each product can be identified by giving it a 3 digit code e.g. 007.
Make sure the questions are unambiguous and likely to produce clear answers by covering the aspects that you most want and need to know about.
- Carrying out the test
Invite respondents to take a drink of water before tasting any product. Ask questions only after a product has been tasted. When comparisons are being made between products, ask questions only after all the products have been tasted.
- Rotation of order
In comparison tests, ensure that different respondents taste the products in a rotating order e.g. invite the first respondent to try 007 before 008, and the next to try 008 before 007.
Set out the results as percentages and show clearly the number of respondents involved (the sample size). For small samples, results can be calculated 'by hand'. Larger samples require a data processing package like Excel.