NEWS10 November 2011

MMR brings some sense to early-stage product testing


UK— Research agency MMR is seeking to get consumers involved in product development from the very start, with a new technique incorporating sensory research.

The technique, called Eros (Early Rules of Success), brings together consumers with marketing and R&D staff in one-day workshops before a product brief is written.

The agency, which specialises in sensory research, screens potential participants for sensory perception skillls, and for their ability to articulate the differences between flavours and smells in the context of brands. Only about one in three applicants make the cut.

“You’re not looking for marketing geniuses,” said managing director Mat Lintern (pictured), “you’re just looking for people who can contribute to a discussion about where a brand should go.”

Too often, Lintern says, consumer insight is brought into the product development process too late and ends up evaluating a product after the important decisions have been made. As a result, the crucial factor of ‘consonance’ – the match between the sensory experience of a product and the brand – can be overlooked. “You might get a half-decent food,” said Lintern, “but it doesn’t fit with where the client wants to go with the brand. We wanted to come up with an approach that would get the marketing and R&D team in the same room at the same time – with some consumers.”

The first project completed using Eros was carried out with drinks maker Britvic and looked at potential changes to an existing product.