Insightful research to develop products, services and experiences which deliver sensory benefits





"Consumer value lies not in the product purchase, not in the brand chosen, not in the object possessed, but in the consumption experiences derived there from" (Bertil Hulten)

To help our clients develop and improve their products and services, we see the task as understanding the sensory experience that these products and services do - or could - provide.

How we do this

We have extensive experience researching 'the senses'. We

  • conduct sensory qualitative research as part of NPD or product-redevelopment and packaging research on many foods and beverages. We pioneered 'sensory qual' in Australia back in 2001. When everyone else thought only about measuring features like sweetness, we knew how people interpret ('make sense of") their experiences. We are very much aware of much can be conveyed through the senses, and also of the power of imagery to convey the promise of sensory experience.
  • research sensory rituals - like the classic TimTam dunk. We reckon we understand ritual experiences better than most research agencies, through our work with Lynne Freeman on consumer experiences of Christmas in the UK and Australia. We have conducted online qualitative, semiotics and mobile ethnography on what men and women want to experience at Christmas.
  • explore sensory arts experiences - especially for Opera Australia.
  • Research customer journeys, understanding the emotional experience of the journey.

We use  direct, implicit and projective techniques in focus groups, ethnography and online research. We use customer journey mapping to understand service experiences.

Who we do this for

Food and drink manufacturers; service providers; arts organisations.

Case Study - sensory qualitative research to re-frame product expectations

Our client had spotted a new opportunity, which concept testing showed to have potential. The R&D team were faced with a choice about how to make the product. Some options were more expensive than others, requiring capital investment, but seemed more in keeping with brand values.  To help, we conducted sensory qualitative research on this product, asking consumers to taste several different prototypes to see which one delivered to the concept the best. Doing this, we discovered that the concept description was more appealing than the prototypes but only because appealing because consumers had assumed many things about the sensory experience which could never be delivered. Their imaginations had run away with them, so there was a significant gap between consumers' imagined product and reality. We were able to show that by changing concept wording and illustrations we could create different expectations - a different 'frame of expectation' - of any equally appealing but feasible product.


We enjoy working with Sensory Solutions on sensory product development as well as for clients directly.

We also bring semiotics to our 'senses' research, again pioneering this concept. 


Tags: Qualitative Research , Customer journeys, Sensory research, Arts research, Rituals