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How to map consumers' preferences?

6 Sep 2018

Sensory Analysis
Consumer Insights

Mapping consumer texture and taste preferences of toast bread around the world

The Toast Tomorrow concept

Toast Tomorrow is an original concept developed by Puratos. It refers to a sensory study aiming at mapping consumer preferences for toast breads from the market in a specific country, or in a specific region. It is a unique opportunity to:

  • compare products within a market or region,
  • define consumers drivers of liking for toast bread,
  • help to develop the most preferred texture and taste in toast bread
  • help to develop toast breads with innovative texture & taste.

How to understand what consumers like?

Developing products with the best taste, flavour and texture to please end-consumers is the challenge of all food companies. To do so, we need to know which sensory characteristics are appreciated by the end-consumers, and to link these characteristics back to the presence of some ingredients, and/or specific process conditions.

However, consumers are usually not able to thoroughly explain why they like a particular product, as they are not trained to pay attention to each of their sensations and to describe them. That’s why, to be able to translate consumer preferences into product specifications, we need an intermediate step: the expert sensory panel. It is a group of people trained to objectively describe and quantify the sensations perceived when eating a product.

The Preference Mapping methodology combines information from both sources: end-consumer preferences and expert panel description. It allows us to identify the key drivers of liking and to define how to orient the product development to meet consumers expectations.

Example of a Toast Tomorrow study

Toast Tomorrow is based on the Preference Mapping methodology. During a study driven in Korea, 6 toast breads were selected as representative of the actual prepacked toast bread market that was offered there.

Our internal sensory expert judges described and quantified the sensory differences between these 6 breads. The results of this evaluation are visualized on a sensory mapping. (see enclosed)

The same 6 breads were evaluated by 125 Korean end-consumers, who were asked to give an overall taste liking score to each product. When combining the consumer liking data with the expert sensory map, we obtain a preference map. It shows which zone of the sensory map correspond to the products that are more preferred by the consumers.

A product in the dark orange or red zone is preferred by a higher proportion of consumers, whereas a product in the blue zone is preferred by a low proportion of people.

The results show that the consumers’ drivers of liking are:

  • good moistness and good softness, but not too moist and soft;
  • good melting in mouth;
  • less sweetness, more milky flavour.  

The positioning of the different market products allows to determine if these products match consumers’ texture and taste expectations for toast bread; and if not, to propose working directions to develop a product more appreciated by consumers.

More information?

Preference Mapping is a very powerful tool for the food industry to benchmark products on their sensory properties, and to orientate product development towards end-consumers expectations.

At Puratos we have developed a strong expertise in this sensory analysis technique and associated statistical analyses, in order to continuously challenge our new developments in a consumer-oriented approach.

Interested in finding out more about our approach regarding Sensory analysis?

Read this article or contact your Puratos local representative to fix a meeting during which we will consider how we can help you be even more successful with your business.