The effect of the research setting on the emotional and sensory profiling under blind, expected, and informed conditions: A study on premium and private label yogurt products.
Although sensory and emotional evaluation of food products mostly occurs in a controlled laboratory environment, it is often criticized as it may not reflect a realistic situation for consumers. Moreover, products are mainly blind evaluated by participants, whereas external factors such as brand are often considered as key drivers of food choice. This study aims to examine the role of research setting (central location test versus home-use test) and brand information on the overall acceptance, and sensory and emotional profiling of 5 strawberry-flavored yogurts. Thereby, private label and premium brands are compared under 3 conditions: blind, expected, and informed (brand information). A total of 99 adult subjects participated in 3 sessions over 3 consecutive weeks. Results showed that overall liking for 2 yogurt samples was higher in the laboratory environment under the informed evaluation condition, whereas no effect of research setting was found under the blind and expected conditions. Although emotional profiles of the products differed depending on the research setting, this was less the case for the sensory profiles. Furthermore, brand information clearly affected the sensory perception of certain attributes but had less influence on overall liking and emotional profiling. These results indicate that both scientists and food companies should consider the effect of the chosen methodology on ecological validity when conducting sensory research with consumers because the laboratory context could lead to a more positive evaluation compared with a home-use test.