Why perform food product testing in China?

Food product testing in China is a research method to test food and beverages not only by taste but also with the sensory perception of sight, smell, and texture. Food product testing gives insights into both consumer behavior and quality assurance. Taste-testing is one of the subsections of sensory research, it can help brands to grab the consumer’s attention by trying to understand what the consumer’s preference are.

China’s food and beverage market is the world’s largest. The rising of the middle-class and the increase of health consciousness has triggered Chinese consumer behavior to shift, making them embrace a modern lifestyle, allowing more demand for foreign products. As young Chinese consumers are demanding new F&B products, , there is a lot of opportunities. But with opportunity comes obstacles that may prove difficult to overcome if the foreign brand doesn’t come with the right strategy. For example, compared to westerners many Chinese are less accepting of food products that are served cold. However, the foreign image of a product may

also be a selling point, localizing too much may cause problems as well. Therefore, foreign F&B brands planning a market entry need to undergo food sensory research in China, so they can understand how to adapt their product.

Daxens has prepared a three-step process for an analysis of an international company to identify the sensory key attributes of their jam products by doing food product testing in China.

Case study: An international confectionery and jam company

Phase 1: Observational analysis

The first step was to complete a Desk Research to have a better understanding of the jam and confectionery market in China. Desk research consists to review the results of previous research to gain more insights on a market. Daxens collects data, process and analyze them and then consolidate them into a report.

Including the market overview, there are 5 more aspects to consider

  • Competition benchmarking to evaluate how competitors are competing in the market and find how the client can stand out
  • Evaluate market trends and market size
  • Analysis of distribution channels to create a complete comprehension how networks are structured is essential, in addition to the potential challenge and obstacles that the client can encounter when seeking to expand further into the Chinese market.
  • Packaging analysis, packaging needs to be clear and attractive, reflecting the flavors and ingredients.
  • Customers’ needs and tastes, comprehension of consumers’ preferences depending on geographic and cultural presence

Phase 2: Performing sensory Research in China

In the case of the jam brand, the main goal for the client was to adapt the recipe to match with local tastes.

Choosing the methodology:

The sensory research included 4 sub-sections, which are:

  • Effective testing, which requires a trained panel that can help us to obtain objective facts about products. There are different methods to do effective testing, from descriptive tests to discrimination tests.
  • Affective testing or so-called “consumer testing” – where we recruit a large untrained panel to obtain subjective data about products to see how the product is received. We can also recruit a smaller focus group to obtain more insight and better qualitative feedback. To do affective testing there are two main methods which are paired comparison and hedonic scale.
  • Perception helps us to understand and explain the mechanism of people’s choices. In contrast to sensation which is the objective stimulation of sense organs, perceptions is interpretation of sensory input, forming preferences and selections.
  • Central location testing (CLT) is a qualitative market research approach, it takes place in a specific and controlled environment (shopping mall, restaurant, or any other suitable location). This approach ensures that we can retrieve high-quality results and candid “raw” feedback which is one of the key advantages of a face-to-face interview.

In our case for the confectionary and jam company, Daxens’s experienced research team decided to use multiple tests, affective testing, effective testing, hedonic tests, and preferences tests to identify the perception, liking, and disliking of the product’s attributes.

Conducting food product testing in China:

The next step is to conduct food product testing, Daxens organized a series of sensory research sessions where the tester has to taste our client’s products and compare them to other key competing products, they rated each product depending on different criteria and the overall likability.

Source: UA College of Agriculture

Phase 3: Analysis and Recommended Routes for development

When the test is over, Daxens’s team compile and analyze every data point gained from the sensory research and the desk research phase. Then, we can cross-analyze data and interpret the findings. Through several focus groups and interviews, the research team can add qualitative data that we received during subjective feedback for example on the packaging, pricing, and their preference on different criteria such as smell, taste, texture, or sight.

With all the data we have, we can identify the opportunities or the challenges our client might face in the Chinese market and propose to them the best development routes by taking into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of the company and its products.

In our case, after analyzing all the data we obtained, our team gave some propositions for how to adapt their recipe and how to improve their packaging to suit Chinese taste and culture. This included also a strategic plan on price range or promotional strategy.

Daxens can conduct your brand’s food product testing in China:

Daxens takes care of all the processes and aspects of sensory research in China, including desk research, sensory testing room, a panel of the tester, data collection, process and analysis, and the final report with advice on recommended routes for development.

To learn more about our methodology and service, contact our Daxens consultants today.

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