The Sensory Science Symposium in Providence USA is approaching, with only a few weeks to go! Haystack will present several studies here on the use of VR as contextual tool and the meaning of Artificial Intelligence for our industry. I'm looking forward to meet you @Pangborn USA to talk about how Symphony of Senses© can help to grow your brand and get an update of latest technology & contextual methods for Sensory Science.
Why is VR and context so important for sensory science ?
Taking into account the low success rate of new product launches, there is a need to apply consumer research set-ups that are as predictive for real life as possible. Several studies (e.g. van Herpen et al., 2016; Holthuysen et al., 2016) showed that in specific cases (e.g. supermarket and air plane) an immersive context rather than a lab setting might aid to get closer to such real life consumer responses. However, it is currently still unknown if immersive (e.g. virtual) contexts under each condition and in each case provide more realistic results. Moreover, the question remains why the incorporation of an immersive (virtual) context in consumer testing could result in a better approximation of reality than a lab context; i.e. what could be the underlying mechanism here?
What we found in one of our studies to be revealed @Pangborn is that under specific conditions, i.e. testing everyday beer-food combinations in a real bistro, VR bistro and CLT, context did not significantly impact on the product evaluation.
Still, the fact that we did not observe a context effect does not mean that context – in general – does not have an impact on consumer liking:
- The type of context selected (i.e. a simple/everyday bistro) might have been of less impact on consumer evaluation/experience than for example a high class restaurant, resulting in a less ‘intense immersion’.
- The procedure as executed by the participants might have been too similar between the settings, resulting in few differences in consumer experience.
We would therefor recommend to experiment with more immersive settings and consider a more natural tasting procedure in the real life setting.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the collaboration with and financial support from Heineken International BV in this study. Thank you Louise den Uijl, Maaike Hagen, Wim Hamaekers, Sjoerd Koornstra, Marion Emorine & Jan Ryckmans for your contribution to this study.