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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Marketing Research - How To Perform a Blind Taste Test

A Taste Test is one of the methods market researchers use in order to compare two competing brands and to get significant insights on how a brand can improve its product. Obviously, this type of test can only be use for food products either stand alone (meaning: the individual ingredients like sugar, noodles, cream, etc) or a finish product (like Jollibee's spaghetti, Razon's Halo-Halo, etc).

So how do you do it?

Doing a blind taste test involves the following process (granting you already have your brand):
  1. Selection of a similar competing brand
  2. Developing the questionnaire.
  3. Preparation of the test materials.
  4. Determining the test groups in terms of target market and sample size.
  5. Execution of the test.
  6. Data Analysis and Recommendations.
I. Selection of a Similar Competing Brand

Emphasis on the word SIMILAR. When you select a competing brand, each should be as similar as possible in order to gain more insight and also to give you an advantage when you determine your recommendations. The similarity can be classified into Price and Category.

Price is a factor since you won't compare a 300 pesos vs a 65 pesos dish. This also helps you cut your list of brands to a smaller scale.

Category means you won't compare a tinola to a sinigang. Makes sense?

II. Developing The Questionnaire

The questionnaire includes the attributes of the products you are trying to compare. The attributes must be rated using either a 3-point scale or 2. In this section, we need to determine if the product is either too much or less performing than the other product.

An example would be:

  • Too Dark
  • Just Right
  • Too Light
The importance of this is for you to determine how the majority of your customers perceived your product in the most quantifiable way.

Also, please make sure to CODE your products properly. Codes must be a combination of letters and numbers.

Here's an example of a Taste Test Questionnaire.

III. Preparation of The Test Materials

The test materials should be prepared EXACTLY what is indicated in the instructions. If it say, 3 eggs mixed with 1.5 cups of water, then follow it verbatim. Any addition or subtraction would result to a different taste of the product hence voiding the taste test. Also, remove the labels or any packaging that can be associated directly to any brand in order to remove any bias.

This is why we call it Blind Taste Test. We remove all brand related packaging and attaching our own product codes in order to get an unbiased results.

IV. Determining The Test Groups in Terms of Target Market And Sample Size

Sample size depends on the population and confidence level to get significant results. You can use this online calculator to determine your sample size.

Sample Size Calculator

V. Execution of The Test

During the execution, testers should have a system to make sure the test is flawless. In order to do this, each member of the testing team should have a role to follow. One can be designated to distribute and collect the questionnaires while the others might be in charge of serving product A or B. Also, to make it un bias, the group must be split into two, one taking product A and the other taking product B all at the same time.

Using the sample questionnaire above, the tester can use the following testing procedure:

  1. Let the respondent drink a little water to take out whatever taste left in his/her mouth that could interfere with the tasting process.
  2. Let him taste the first test product (Don’t forget to rotate the products.)
  3. Ask Questions 1 to 4.
  4. Let the respondent drink a little water again to get rid of the remaining taste coming from the first product tested.
  5. Let the respondent taste the second test product.
  6. Ask Questions 5 up to end.

VI. Data Analysis and Recommendations

All you need to do is aggregate all the data into one spreadhseet. I'll come up with another post on how to do the analysis and recommendation since the basic objective of this post is to show how a taste test would go.

So there you have it. If you plan to conduct a taste test for your product and determine its weaknesses against a competing brand, then the steps outlined above would definitely help you.

Nicco Lopez Tan is a graduate student of De La Salle University taking Masters of Marketing Communications.

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  1. Thank you for letting me know about How To Perform a Blind Taste Test, Wow! What a great post. One of my favorites you have ever written.thanks a lot for sharing Questionnaire

  2. Anonymous4.9.12

    good shit bro

  3. Thank you for your great article! This one helps a lot to my work!

  4. Anonymous26.10.15

    Very Very Useful. Thank you