Picking consumers’ brains to gauge experience

Picking consumers’ brains

Swiss company Givaudan has announced an agreement with neuro-science company Thimus, the developer of the exclusive TBox platform, to provide an integrated collection of explicit and implicit data for exploring how humans experience food.

Givaudan’s collaboration with Italy-based Thimus is the first extensive use of the TBox platform in the world of food, resulting in Givaudan’s new programme, Food Emotions powered by Thimus.

A global leader in fragrance and beauty and taste and wellbeing, Givaudan delivers food experiences, craft-inspired fragrances and develops beauty and well-being solutions that make people look and feel good.

Food products are being re-designed to meet new expectations. Sustainability, health, quality and emotion are crucial considerations in this re-invention. Understanding and responding to consumer preferences has never been more important.

But there’s often a gap between what consumers say and their actual experience and behaviour. Neuroscience may be the key to closing that gap. A portable tool developed by Thimus is used to gain a fuller understanding of the consumer experience.

Brain signals

In addition to only having consumers participate in a focus group, or answer a questionnaire, Thimus’ TBox provides participants with a headset to wear during taste tests. The headset records brain signals, which are then processed by validated algorithms to measure four key mental states including frontal asymmetry, engagement, cognitive workload and relaxation.

Using proprietary software and a cloud-based database for data analysis and retrieval, the tool can deliver insights that were previously unavailable or unreliable.

“Neuroscience has the unique ability to reveal how consumers truly feel about a product throughout the eating or drinking experience,” explained Fabio Campanile, Global Head of Science & Technology for taste and wellbeing at Givaudan.

“The company has the power to revolutionise how we co-create with our customers, increasingly satisfying consumers, and transforming the way the world eats while enabling more nutritious food choices,” he added.

Thimus Founder and CEO, Mario Ubiali, added, “We were immediately excited about the prospect of working with Givaudan because we see such a strong alignment in our missions of transforming food systems through a food experience lens.”

Givaudan has used the Thimus technology in several customer projects with very successful results. Consumer tests on botanical soft drinks, comparing two prototypes. The implicit data gathered from Thimus was used to pinpoint a negative reaction during the taste phase in the second product.

The team was then able to identify a successful route to optimise the soft drink by improving mouthfeel.

In this instance, the problem and its resolution could not have been uncovered by examining declarative data alone. The technology will gradually be rolled out within Givaudan and will be available for selective customer use in some regions.