Sean Bisceglia is the CEO of Curion, a leading provider of consumer insight research and product testing for both global CPG and challenging brands in the food and beverage, personal care, fragrance and home care categories.
Brands are based on consumer testing to analyze the potential risks and benefits before launching a new product, changing a series of expansions or changing the way a brand is marketed. This usually takes place in a test kitchen or laboratory, where consumers are involved in blind tests. The environment is clean and clinical.
With the advent of contextual testing, researchers can now test product testing for consumers where they live and relax, such as community gyms, popular bars, theaters, restaurants, seniors, or anyone else where consumers mix, relax and work.
Would you rather sample a new craft beer in a rehearsal kitchen or relax on a sunny outdoor patio? Do popcorn taste as good in the laboratory as in the living room while watching a large-screen TV? Is the tropical scent of sunscreen as attractive in the interior as on the beach? Product testing from the lab brings the experience to the consumer’s life, enabling researchers to understand the brand in context – always more realistic than central on-site testing. CLT)
According to the decision-maker analyst, “If the product is used in offices, they must test it in the office for people who work in the office. If the product is normally used at home, it should be tested at home. If the product is consumed in restaurants, it should be tested in restaurants etc.
Thanks to Curion
This kind of “real environment” test produces the most accurate results. For example, in-house testing of food products is always more accurate and predictive than a centrally located taste test. “
Here is the future of demand. People eat anywhere, anytime (I think Uber eats). Order online and receive overnight delivery. Consumer expectations are “you bring it to me”. Example? You can click and get an LA-style fitness class that can be taken directly to the bicycle in the family room. For all these and many more reasons, Curion has decided to test the products on the LifeLabs platform for consumers.
Response to market disruption
Consumers drive change; the result of the rapid reversal of new technologies, cultural changes and social norms. Let me put it another way. Everyone was on Facebook as long as everyone was on Instagram. Everyone ate macaroni and cheese, as long as salt and fat did not endanger health. Everyone was smoking until the vaping replaced the cigarette. Now that’s the question. Everyone drank soda from plastic bottles or cans. Global awareness of ocean pollution is changing the way packaging is thought.
What drives consumer preferences? How do you think about brands? What can we expect?
Recent consumer research shows these alpha trends for entry into 2020:
Social media makes new products thirsty. “Food brands need to take greater risks … quickly and often.”
You can wait for “new textures in food and beverage options”.
Brands need to step up food innovation, for example in alternative categories of meat and dairy products.
We will continue to see that the Millennials and GenZ are leading the charge of cutting salt, sugar and fat. This paves the way for spicy, more exotic alternatives – a hot topic for younger demographics.
Any plastic-wrapped product is endangered as consumers become more and more environmentally friendly. Brands need to be meticulous in conveying the message of sustainability – on packaging and on the internet.
Contextual research is the subject of Thinking Outside the Cabin. The report states: “Sensory and consumer research is placed in the center of conventional sensory cubicles, closer to where consumers actually purchase or consume the products being tested, thereby enhancing the ecological validity of the study. It has been well established that consumers’ reactions to the same foods may differ depending on where and where these foods have been tested. ”
LifeLabs curated behavior scientists also conduct product tests in virtual reality rooms where consumers come in contact with models. This gives people the opportunity to see what a product might look like on the shelf. We can monitor the purchasing process and evaluate how the product behaves against competitors as “buyer” participants.
Workplace Product Testing
Recently, our group has partnered with a leading shared office provider. This fit perfectly with our customers, the health food industry’s popular protein bar brand, who was trying to understand how their nutrition bar was emerging in the competition.
The Shared Office Provider has more than 800 locations in 124 cities and has over 400,000 members worldwide to meet our client’s target market.
As part of the research, the differences between conventional laboratory testing in CLC have been identified setting and context testing. Our mission was to understand how consumer responses can differ in real-time meals and in more natural settings.
A pop-up CLC ran in a Chicago-area co-working office where snack breaks and lunchtime took place, where office owners were asked to stay and taste blinded coded products. They also received a QR code for the online survey.
Instead of compensation, as in the traditional CLC, they gave a charity donation in their name. This eliminates consumers whose only motivation is cash rewards because they are interested in the actual product.
The results of the conventional study and the LifeLabs study were compared to determine how context influences consumer perception.
Consumer preference for the products was the same in all studies. However, participants in the common office test page showed much more enthusiasm for the experience and were much less critical of the products than the standard CLC booth. Respondents to the survey questions were better articulated and nuanced.
Advantages of contextual research
According to numerous studies cited in ScienceDirect, the results suggest that the deeper the context when studying consumer perception, “the closer the body’s responses are to the answers in the real world.”
Curion found that contextual research has many benefits, allowing brands to:
Closer to the consumer in the context of his lifestyle.
Enable natural bias.
Understand the use of the product in real time.
Get context-rich insights into how everyday habits influence preferences.
Test prototypes before starting production.
Find the moments you have and those you don’t.